QSR MAGAZINE – From determining menu items to hiring staff, using data to make decisions is key to running a successful business. 

As an independent quick service restaurant owner, you have a lot of decisions to make. From determining your menu items and managing inventory to hiring staff and adjusting schedules, you are constantly on the go, making decisions that will ultimately affect your bottom line.

What if you could make some of those decisions based on concrete data that would ensure you are making the best choices for your business?

Larger chain restaurants and companies in other industries have long been leveraging aggregate data to make better business decisions. As an independent operator, you might think this is an unattainable goal—something that would be expensive and require hours of specialized training in data analysis. But that’s not the case anymore.

Today’s POS technology can help independent QSR operators gain unparalleled insights into their business with the click of a button. By upgrading your POS, you can easily and definitively answer specific questions, such as, “what time should I open,” or “is it worth it to stay open on Sundays,” or “should I consolidate the number of menu items I offer?” These data-based decisions have the potential to level the playing field for your business as you compete against larger chains and in increasingly crowded markets.

Some independent QSR operators are already reaping the benefits of making data-based decisions. One QSR in California adjusted his operating hours by one hour (opening and closing an hour later than before) after using his new POS for just two weeks. In that short time, he was clearly able to tell from the data when his restaurant saw the most traffic. He had always known anecdotally that they did less business in the morning, but seeing actual numbers proving just how much less led him to change his hours of operation.

The result? A full 7 percent increase in revenue.

The possibilities are almost limitless. With the right technology, you can analyze which menu items perform best and when, identify trends and spikes in business so you can more appropriately allocate staff resources, determine whether or not to open on a holiday or even identify which servers take the most time to turn tables and train them to be more efficient. By closing the gap on operational inefficiencies, you’ll have more time to dedicate to top quality customer service—and maybe even a vacation.

The manager of a QSR take-out shop for upscale sandwiches in Silicon Valley says that upgrading his POS allowed him to take time for himself, knowing he could access information remotely to stay up to date on what was happening in the store.

“In fact, it allowed me to take a peaceful and worry free two-week vacation,” he says.

Depending on the technology you choose, you may also be able to benefit from behind-the-scenes proactive data monitoring that allows customer support to proactively troubleshoot for your business.

Imagine if the customer service department was working behind the scenes to resolve issues before they became problems, never even notifying you or taking time out of your busy day unless it was an issue that couldn’t be resolved remotely. Or if they could call and let you know the exact date when your hard drive was expected to fail, so you could proactively address the issue and avoid system downtime.

This technology already exists, and hundreds of independent QSR owners are already taking advantage of it. The fact is, technology has arrived that can transform the way restaurants do business, and the smartest owners are getting on board today to ensure their businesses thrive tomorrow.

If you want to compete in today’s changing and ever-crowded marketplace, you should look into the technology options available that can help you make more informed, data-based decisions to put you ahead of the pack.

Mani Kulasooriya is the CEO of CAKE Corporation, a fully integrated restaurant technology platform and a Sysco company. Mani is an expert in the cross section of financial services and the internet and has worked in the payments and consumer internet space for the past 18 years. In his role at CAKE, Mani has advanced cloud point of sale technology to a suite of integrated technology products for the restaurant industry, making restaurant management and increasing ROI easier and more efficient. Prior to his role at CAKE, Mani worked as the Founder and CEO of Monvia, a web consulting company, as well as in executive roles at Yahoo! and Citibank.