Big Data

Big Data for Restaurants

Big Data for Restaurants

I wrote a guest post for the team at Swipely on big data for restaurants.

I’m pretty happy with the angle on that one, and at the risk of sounding extremely self-adulating, I’m going to quote myself from it for just a sec.

And then I’m going to share with you, as Paul Harvey used to say, the REST of the story about why “data isn’t a four-letter word,” with three specific opinions about big data and the restaurant industry.

The quote:

The key, in the future, isn’t whether you should jump on board the Data Bandwagon. It’s how you’ll jump on board.

I’ve made the case time and time again here at NextRestaurants that leveraging data to get to know your customers — building profiles on them even — is where it’s at. I don’t mind telling you there are many companies working to solve that problem for restaurants, too. They’re in the “restaurant CRM” space.

But what does this look like after exhaustive profiles have been built?

Big data for restaurants is just that — FOR restaurants.

Large chains are rapidly adopting technology partners who offer solutions that come pre-loaded with a comprehensive dashboards identifying guests or campaigns. Independent restaurants have options in this area, too. It’s really exciting. You just didn’t have these possibilities before.

There’s a great article in yesterday’s Washington Post by Steven Overly. In it, you’ll find this great quote:

Technology plays an increasing role in the day-to-day functions of restaurants, stores and hotels. Software collects reams of information about customers — what you eat, what you buy, the size of your bill — that merchants use to determine how to best serve customers and increase their profits in the process.

Venga‘s Winston Bao Lord makes a great point in the article as well when he says, “The key is actually taking that big data and making it actionable.” Couldn’t agree more.

Big data will be a boon for restaurants. While right now you’re being persuaded to think about the next consumer-facing deployment you need to make — a mobile app, a mobile payments platform to accept, online ordering, or even tablets on tables — you really need to think about what you’re going to do with the data you collect from these funnels. Strong homes start with strong foundations.

Read:  The 4 Categories of Marketers When it Comes to Data

Big data for restaurants is going to be defined by MUCH more than guest profiles.

Your guests are driven to eat at — or NOT eat at, as the case may be — your restaurant based on more than just their profile.

We know that promotions and campaigns can drive new customer acquisition in the restaurant industry. Some people, even those squarely in your target demographic, won’t ever give real thought to trying your brand until presented with the right offer at the right time.

We all know that your location and what’s going on in your local community can drive new customer acquisition as well. Sporting event going on? Is it restaurant week? Presidential visit pulling people into downtown when they never otherwise go there? New Target being built 500 feet away?

And how about the weather? I’ll go SOME places in a driving rainstorm to eat. But I won’t drive anywhere — and that’s just when it’s raining. I was once in a downtown Denver restaurant right as Happy Hour was kicking into gear, and it was nearly empty. Snow was coming down hard and sticking. Despite an incredible location, the restaurant was dead.

There are multiple factors that determine whether and where a person will eat. Big data will ultimately help restaurants sort through those variables — in real-time.

Big data for restaurants is going to change who gets into the restaurant industry.

I really believe that the next generation of restaurants will be run by a new breed of entrepreneur. If people feel like owning a restaurant can be more predictable, with less guesswork, they’ll be more inclined to start one.

The failure rate of restaurants is legendary. Launching a business with the right data — and being able to use it intelligently — is going to lead to more super-savvy entrepreneurs getting into the industry. I’m convinced of that. This, too, is a great thing for the restaurant industry.

What do you think of how data will shape the restaurant industry? Forget the phrase “big data” — because it’s not just about WHAT data you collect, it’s how you USE the data.

What do you see happening in the future?

About the author

Brandon Hull

Brandon is the original founder of He has helped thousands of restaurants implement innovative marketing strategies, campaigns, and tactics by incorporating new technology, in order to attract loyal guests.