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Get Ahead of Economic Downturns with Data Central

Published on January 8, 2023
By PAR Team

The current state of the economy is proving tough for restaurant brands which are fraught with constant challenges that affect their daily operations. With stressors like extremely high inflation rates, a dwindled labor pool, supply chain woes, and frequently changing customer preferences and behaviors, restaurant brands are distracted by the factors they cannot control rather than focusing on and overcoming the challenges that are happening within their doors. A simple way restaurant brands can get ahead of known economic downturns and stressors is by focusing on internal challenges and upgrading technological solutions that assist with daily operations.

Brands today need solutions that are designed to decrease costs, maximize margins, and enhance efficiencies like Data Central. Data Central is the cloud-based back-office system that empowers multi-unit restaurant brands to enhance their operations. This software-as-a-service (SaaS) management solution puts the right information, in the right hands, at the right time by providing brands with enterprise-level reporting and actionable insights to identify trends and problems in real-time as well as hyperfocus on what drives the biggest demand. From inventory to food to labor management tools, this back-office database management solution equips restaurant chains of all shapes and sizes with the data solutions necessary to wade through the muck of known economic woes and come out unscathed, and here is how.

Track Inventory from Delivery Through Preparation

Food is arguably one of the largest costs for any restaurant brand and this budget has only seemed to increase as the economy continues to dive to new depths. In fact, the price of produce is at an all-time high, increasing over 13% in the past year mainly due to supply chain challenges and inflation. Although food stock is a critical budget for any restaurant, most brands do not possess the proper technology to overcome food waste issues. According to an FDA study on food loss and waste, the restaurant industry wastes roughly 133 billion pounds of produce each year and annually loses about $161 billion worth of food. This is because the technology that most restaurants utilize lacks the power to track and provide operators with inventory levels from when new stock is delivered to when it is ordered by the customer. However, Data Central provides restaurant brands with user-friendly inventory management tools accessible on any device that help operators ensure accuracy, save time, increase profit margins, and combat food waste. With Data Central’s inventory management tools, brands are empowered to track stock levels from the instant it is delivered to the restaurant through preparation. By tracking inventory levels from delivery through preparation, operators can truly understand what they have left, what is needed, and when new inventory stock is required.

Through inventory forecasting, restaurant operators never have to worry about over-ordering and can order the perfect amount of inventory every time in coordination with historical consumption, sales forecasts, vendor delivery schedules, thaw and prep times, and ingredient-level tracking. This feature automatically determines inventory needs, suggests adjustments, and integrates with vendors to fulfill all orders. Additionally, as menu items are prepared and sold to customers, inventory levels will automatically adjust depending on the ingredients used from the chosen menu item. This ensures that forecasted inventory levels are accurate at all times and saves operators valuable time and money.

Reduce Food Costs and Maximize Margins

To take inventory and food cost savings to the next level, restaurant operators can take advantage of Data Central’s food management feature designed to lower food costs through menu engineering, data analysis, suggested ordering, and purchasing optimization. Restaurant brands that take advantage of Data Central’s food-management tool have seen a 3%-6% reduction in food costs because it takes data from existing systems to identify trends, predict sales, and quantify variance between current and optimized inventory. With Data Centrals food-management tool, restaurant operators can create and optimize menus by analyzing demand, costs, and margins on individual menu items as well as analyzing reports highlighting critical KPIs like historical and geographic costs to provide insights on potential savings. The food management tool also ensures that all food is properly stocked at the perfect temperature to ensure nothing goes to waste and everything is ready for the next shift.

Optimize Staff Scheduling

At the end of the day, nothing is more important than restaurant employees, as they are the point of contact for customers and represent the brand. Pairing great food with great service creates an exceptional experience that customers crave. However, restaurant brands have recently been experiencing drastic changes in the labor pool resulting in low employee morale and labor shortages. According to a National Restaurant Association study, roughly 77% of restaurant operators stated that their restaurants could not keep up with customer demand because they were understaffed. Moreover, the report found that the restaurant industry is roughly 5.3% below employment levels before the pandemic. Employees are the backbone of any business, but this especially holds true for the restaurant industry.

To stay ahead of labor challenges, restaurant brands can utilize Data Central’s labor-management tool, designed to lower labor spending. With Data Central’s labor-management tool, restaurant operators can find the perfect combination of employees for any given shift by diving deep into reports on labor cost percentages, sales per labor hour, average wage rates, employee retention, and employee performance.

A fantastic way to manage restaurant staff with Data Central is through a new and expanding feature called Activity Feed. Activity Feed acts as an extension of a brand’s team by seamlessly integrating with their existing point-of-sale, accounting, payroll, and other systems to provide operators with full visibility into their operations and proactively suggest actions to optimize results. Restaurants often experience understaffed workdays forcing managers to fill in for a missing team member. As a result, managers focus on fulfilling the roles of missing employees rather than reviewing daily performance analytics. However, Activity Feed acts as a virtual manager and proactively prompts the on-duty manager about actions to optimize performance. For example, if sales are behind the forecast, Activity Feed will prompt the manager via push notification to cut staff and production to minimize the impacts of slow sales days. The same can also be true if sales are ahead of forecasts! Activity Feed will prompt the manager to bring in additional staff or speed up production to capitalize on the increased sales volume. By combining sales forecasting and defined labor requirements, brands can predict and generate cost-effective and operationally sound daily schedules for their employees every time.

Times are proving tough for some of our favorite restaurant brands, but they do not have to be. With Data Central, restaurant brands can stay ahead of known stressors and come out through economic downturns unscathed. Interested in learning more about Data Central’s management solutions? Visit us here or request a demo today!

Tiffany Disher, General Manager, MENU North America

Tiffany Disher

General Manager, MENU North America

Tiffany Disher, General Manager, MENU North America, an omni-channel ordering solution to futureproof restaurant’s growing digital sales needs. Before taking on this new role in January 2023, she was an integral part of Punchh’s growth story. She has advised hundreds of customers over the past eight years on their loyalty strategies both from a base program standpoint as well as ongoing marketing strategies. Before Punchh, Tiffany worked for Schlotzsky’s where she supported the brand marketing team by leading loyalty, eClub, R&D, Franchise advisory council and marketing analytics. Tiffany has her Bachelor’s of Science in Economics from University of Oregon and Master’s in Business with a specialty in Marketing from Baylor University. An avid golfer, hiker and mom of two small children, Tiffany spends her limited free time entering into baking competitions.