Why Consistent Data Collection Is Key for Restaurants

Taken at face value, compliance reporting for restaurants seems more like a necessary evil than a core part of a running a business. It's this thing managers have to do at the end of every shift, lugging heaving logbooks around the kitchen, recording information that no one will ever read, but you have to do it just in case you're ever audited.

It's time to change the way we look at this data though.

Hidden in those logbooks is tons of valuable business data that should be processed and acted on.  Reviewing it, analyzing it, and forming strategies around it is of course the ultimate goal. However, none of those things are possible if the data itself is inconsistent and scattered.

So let's take a few steps back all the way to the foundation of business intelligence to the collection of data itself.

In this post we'll outline a few reasons why consistent data collection is important for restaurants, and then we'll suggest a few ways to support your team in performing more consistent data collection during compliance reporting.

3 Reasons Why Consistent Data Collection Is Important

1. You need to provide a reliable customer experience.

If the appeal of independent restaurants is a unique and one-of-a-kind experience that I can't get anywhere else, the appeal of somewhere like Panera is a reliable experience that looks, sounds, smells, and tastes the same whether I'm in Boston or Buffalo. To make sure that things are up to the right standards at every location, you have to monitor them.

2. You need to be able to identify outliers.

If you're tracking sales, staff activities, and other data at every restaurant, you have something to compare each location to. This gives you a way to identify the rockstar managers, as well as those who should maybe watch the ship a little more closely.

Without data, you may have a "hunch" that things aren't going swimmingly at a particular store. Yet, without comparative numbers to back that gut feeling up, you may not have the confidence to do anything about it. 

Alternatively, you may notice one stand-out manager doing a particularly great job at motivating employees and get a sense that morale is particularly great at one location. But you may not have any numbers - like percent of workers who called out sick for shifts last quarter - to back up your feeling that this manager deserves recognition. Good people are tough to find. You want to know when people are doing a great job so you can reward them in some way.

Consistent data collection fixes both of these situations.

3. Data holds people accountable.

If you know someone is going to check your work, you feel a little more self-conscious about their perception of your output. For most people, it'll motivate them to take a little more pride in what they do and maybe "dot their i's" and "cross their t's". If data collection at your restaurant is this disorganized thing that no one really rallies around, you lose the benefit of this motivation and the transitive increase in quality.

How to Help Your Employees Collect Better Data

Now let's be practical.

Between managing shifts, dealing with customers, and making sure the food gets out on time, your restaurant managers are busy. It's no wonder that compliance reporting gets knocked down to the bottom of the priority list.

There are ways you can support your staff in this endeavor though.

Switch to digital logbooks 

A digital logbook like Squadle consolidates the forms that are in big, heavy, traditional logbooks into a simple and easy-to-use mobile app and tablet. This is a lot easier to bring around the restaurant and do reporting with.

Use checklists

Your managers have enough to think about. Reporting shouldn't be another chore they have to put a ton of thought into.

Squadle customers use task management tools and create to-do lists for their managers that align with what needs to be recorded on a daily basis for each shift. This way, managers know exactly what has to get done. It holds them accountable, too, which helps make the data they collect consistent.

Give managers access to metrics dashboards

Squadle customers access to the data collected during compliance reporting through their own analytics dashboards. It's a good idea to share this data with others in the company, such as operations teams and restaurant managers.

If managers see this data, it may spark some interest in the reporting process. If they know why things are getting reported and how it's getting used, it'll give them a new appreciation for the process and motivate them to do it thoroughly.

What other tips do you have for data collection at restaurants? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Tweet us at @Squadle and tell us what you think.

PS: Interested in learning more about the digital logbooks we mentioned in this post? Sign up for a demo of Squadle today to get more information.