The power of data in restaurant chains

Managing a chain of restaurants is very challenging, and in order to get the best results the team in each restaurant needs to have access to the right information in order to make the right decisions.

This is becoming ever more complex as restaurants are collecting an increasingly large amount of data.

In this article we will set out how technologies that have been available to Google and Amazon are now set to revolutionize the restaurant industry.

We see the approach in 3 key steps:

1)Data collection: you must gathering data from all facets of your business. We like to break it down as follows:

  • “In-store” data e.g., POS, inventory, employee data
  • “Near-store” data e.g., social media reviews and other 3rd party content
  • “External data” e.g., weather, traffic etc.

2)Insight generation: then turning the data into actionable insights — here it’s important that the steps taken by each staff member must be clear, and ideally you can quantify the result

3)Insight delivery: finally , you must deliver them to the right person (e.g. a store manager) without having to wait for the insight to be passed down the management chain.

You need to ensure ease of access to relevant and reliable information, while decentralizing decision making ability away from the boardroom, or headquarters.

These insights will drive decision-making and and help better manage restaurant chains. Actually, the faster and more accurately you can access and review information about your restaurant, the better you can manage, control and improve your operation.

The use of big data in your chain should increase your productivity and maximize your marketing ROI. For example, based on the analysis of your sales you could adjust staffing and procurement levels based on demand or you could reduce food cost by reducing wastage. With the collection of data from social media and review sites you are able to see how well your sites and staff are performing.

Here are five ways you can get value from your data:

  • Raise customer satisfaction to drive additional traffic

Improve your overall customer reviews and get alerted of bad reviews immediately, so they can be actioned in real time. The store managers will receive alerts if something needs attention to engage your most valuable customers.

  • Improve staff performance: increase speed and upsell

Increase your speed of service, your average check size and give staff real time feedback on their performance and incentivise to sell more. We’ve seen more than 150% variability in up-sell across staff members, and even up to 800% in speed of service!

  • Optimize your menu

Analyze menus to find the most popular dish. Menu analytics can have far-reaching benefits, whether in identifying complementary menu pairings, creating discounts for winning combinations of such items, or identifying non-performing items and removing them.

  • Reduce wastage of food and labour cost

Increase procurement efficiency with automated forecasting and find the right balance of delivery and in-store resources — more accurate ordering and staff scheduling.

  • Test and learn: bring software development practices to your restaurant!

A restaurant can test a program in one location and then, depending on its success, choose to apply the program at other locations and across various levels. Having access to the data enables you to quantity an initiative’s success.

At Tenzo we can offer all these insights in one place, on mobile and web. All the insights are delivered in real time to the right person in order to improve decision making and your bottom line!

Restaurant Tech Market Map —Integrated vs. Best In Class

We’d like to share today how we see the restaurant tech market map evolve over the next few years: that we are moving from an integrated world where systems would span multiple verticals to one where a collection of specialised systems in each vertical work together.

Integrated World

In the integrated world of restaurant tech, a small number of systems managed the restaurant. There would typically be a point-of-sale (POS), such as NCRPositouch or Zonal where the data would sit on a computer in a back room, a back of house system such as Fourth Hospitality and an accounting system such as Sage. These systems would sometimes talk to each other. The tech lacked in depth functionality as they were stretched over many verticals. It would be difficult to get insights out as the data was fragmented and not readily available.

The Best In Class World

The best in class world that has now emerged is one in which many systems built by different entities communicate with each other to deliver more value to the restaurant. It also means that restaurants have more choice in each vertical and therefore have the opportunity to choose the best in class.

When choosing a technology in the best in class world, you should make sure that the data they collect is available to other systems via an API.

We’ve explored the main verticals and some of the options available:

Tablet POS platforms — These companies offer tablet-based point-of-sale systems for restaurants, aiming to give team members faster and more mobile ways to process transactions. There are a number of options here. Revel and Lightspeed have both raised in excess of $100m. Most have robust systems with reliable APIs which can connect to your accounting software, loyalty systems, payment systems.


Staff Scheduling — When I Work (have raised $24m) and Nimble Schedulehave a large installed base and offer APIs that will allow you to pull relevant data out of their system.

On-demand labour — there are several companies that are helping restaurants plug short term gaps in their staff by offering on-demand team members. Notable ones include Catapult and TotalJobs.


Internet-of-Things (IoT) — these include footfall sensors (like Hoxton Analytics), smart kitchen sensors (such as Casabot), guest wifi (like purple wifi), digital displays (Enplug) or phone charging stations (powermat).


Customer loyalty — The main players in the restaurant loyalty space include FiveStars ($90M in funding), LevelUp ($53M in funding), and Belly ($26M in funding). These companies reward systems, offer points and sometimes pay-by-phone options for customers, as well as limited analytics and marketing options for restaurants.

Purchasing and inventory — Companies like BlueCart ($4M in funding) or SimpleOrder help restaurants track inventory, improve supplier communications, aggregate supplier orders, and analyse costs.


Reservation platforms — there are several platforms here but one that is emerging from the crowd is Velocity.


Restaurant music — These startups provide smart music systems for restaurants and cafes. matches the right music the store. TouchTunes ($65M in funding) offers a “digital jukebox” with a companion mobile app for guests, while Rockbot ($6M in funding) gives clients like McDonaldsPanera, and Buffalo Wild Wings a digital music dashboard with curated music stations.


Actionable Insights — Tenzo can bring all the data that these systems collect, apply machine learning and data science to them in order to deliver short actionable insights to the right person, at the right time on the right device.