If you're looking to revamp or update your restaurant's online menu, your first step should be reviewing the most recent reports from your data analytics tools.

The right restaurant tech tools will feature a reporting dashboard, which will allow you to gain the kind of insights that help determine how to organize your menu, how much to charge for each menu item, when to offer special deals and promotions, and so much more. Here's how to use data analytics to your restaurant's advantage.

What do analytics tools have to do with online menus?

Short answer: Everything!

Razor-thin profit margins prevent the luxury of simply creating dishes and "seeing what sells." Instead, look at reports and use data analytics tools to get a true read on what's working in your operation and what needs to be improved. Restaurant owners and operators are often surprised with data when they see it for the first time, and those "A-ha!" moments are often the start of business growth.

Get started with data analytics tools.

When using analytics tools to help make your online menu more profitable, the reports you should pay close attention to include the following:

  • Food cost reports. These reports can be fine-tuned to give you a glimpse of how profitable your menu items are, and what they cost on average and seasonally. You'll be able to figure out how many of those items were sold and what percentage of your sales they make up.
  • Product mix reports. Seeing the list of items that were sold and understanding what percentage of sales they represent is eye-opening. This report can include several options that drill down to dig deeper into your data. These reports can tell you what people are requesting to modify within your menu items and which team members sell more of these items.
  • Customer relationship management reports. These reports allow you to monitor guest behavior. Using your data analytics tools to see when guests order, how often, and if the items ordered all allow you to double down on your most supportive guests. Offering and successfully managing a loyalty program gives you a chance to thank your guests, with a significant return on investment (which can also be measured in the reports).

Make adjustments after exploring the data.

Reorganize your menu with profitability in mind. Are your most popular items also your most profitable? If not, explore the placement of that item on your online menu screen.

Consider the first part of your screen to be the place where guests will get their first impression of your food. Engage them with several of your most profitable items early, and consider making guests scroll a bit for your least profitable items if you continue to carry them.

Use your modifiers report to tweak specific items that guests may want. Think about switching to cheddar cheese on that burger instead of brie if the majority of guests have requested it in the past. You are satisfying guests' desires and cutting food costs along the way. Additionally, use your analytics tools to offer an easy way to add modifications to existing menu items. Adding bacon, or adding a side salad, for example, can be a great way to boost check averages in the absence of a server actively selling add-on items.

Using your tools for online menu success.

Your data analytics tools can help you realize how long your guests are waiting to be served, what they thought of the food, and a multitude of other factors that make your online ordering successful. Strive to be better, and decide if using a third-party app is worth it. A well-managed online ordering system offers you more control over your success online, and it can make guests happier with the overall experience as well as the quality they pick up or get delivered.

Use the tools, review the data, and level up to the place where each decision is a calculated one, with profitability in mind.

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