This blog supplements our Resource Center content.  We hope you visit often to learn more about how back office software can help your restaurant optimize food and labor costs and minimize waste.

How to Engineer a Restauant Menu Using Your Data

Posted on Mon, December 01, 2014

Let’s face it; everyone in the restaurant industry is looking for a leg up on the competition and trying to maximize profits. Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics tools show that restaurant chains are pushing the envelope by assembling an optimized menu mix using a back office technique called Menu Engineering

When you do a quick search for “Menu Engineering”, you will find a whole host of consultants vying to help restaurants figure out what should be on an optimized menu.  They’ll even suggest how and in what order those products should be displayed to customers. Restaurant owners are quick to see the value in doing this type of analysis, but the first step is always the same: you need the right data to get started. 

The question then becomes, what is the right data and how do I get it? 

First, let’s focus on what is the “right” data. In order to get meaningful results from your analysis, your data set needs to include the following data:

1. Transaction level detail

First things first, you need to have comprehensive data on the number of sales of each menu item and how much they actually sold for. You also need this information captured for all the restaurants for which you want to run the analysis. Lastly, think about how often you are going to run this analysis and for what date range. If you have one year’s worth of data, then you could not only run a quarterly analysis, but also compare the current quarter’s results against the previous quarter to see how the outcomes may have changed over time.

2. Ingredient Cost

This might sound simple, but the ingredient cost for each menu item can make or break the process and is the most essential aspect of Menu Engineering. If you can’t effectively breakdown what your product costs your restaurant to make, then you have no shot at determining what the profitability is of the sold product. Not only do you really need to understand your ingredient costs, you need to make sure that they are calculated and reported the same way across all your restaurants.

3. Menu Segmentation

Comparing apples to apples (pun intended) is important. Menu segmentation into categories like entrees, appetizers and desserts or subcategories such as breakfast, lunch or dinner will give you the option to compare like items. Certainly, you can analyze the results across all segments, but more value can be captured when comparing one entrée to other entrees on the menu, or one lunch item to other lunch items. Again, much like costing, these categories must be consistent across the entire data set so that the results of the analysis will be useable.

Now we focus on the second part of the question, where do you get the data from?

This is where business intelligence and analytics platforms come in. A typical platform will access a comprehensive data warehouse pre-populated with all the data (and a lot more) mentioned above.  This data is accumulated and driven by your enterprise back office solution

With a BI tool used in connection with a back office solution, a menu mix analysis should only take a few minutes to complete. You will still need to set up how you want to classify your Dogs, Stars, Puzzles and Plow Horses. Simply point it at your data set, pick the date ranges and let the report engine do the work for you.  Then, when you want run this analysis the following quarter (or whenever), simply adjust the date range.

For more information about Business Intelligence tools for restaurants, reach out to CrunchTime at or follow us on Twitter @getcrunchtime and LinkedIn.

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Restaurant Software Everywhere!

Posted on Thu, October 16, 2014

In this On Foodable Feature, brought to you by the Foodable WebTV Network, as part of their Restaurant Technology Series they sat down with four industry experts to discuss how software, specifically cloud-based, improves restaurant operations and drives sale opportunities.

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5 Smart Reasons Why You Need a Business Intelligence Tool

Posted on Thu, October 02, 2014

When it comes to BI tools, data and how it is visualized can have a substantial impact on how your team discovers, communicates and reacts to trends.  

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Tags: restaurant reporting, enterprise reporting, business intelligence, dashboards

Meeting the Challenge of Optimizing Restaurant Labor Costs

Posted on Wed, August 06, 2014

As seen Aug 6, 2014 | FsVoice inside Nation’s Restaurant News

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Tags: labor management, labor cost, back of house

5 Ways Inventory Management is Essential to Your Growth Strategy

Posted on Fri, June 13, 2014

A critical part of any restaurant growth plan, Inventory Management is essential to introducing precision and business rigor to the enterprise. The following article explains the benefits restaurant chains will achieve when they implement an inventory management tool using a web-based back office system.

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Tags: restaurant inventory software, inventory management, vendor management

Mapping Iconic Restaurant Brands

Posted on Mon, June 09, 2014

If you're like us, you like infographics.  What can be better than an infograpic in the form of a US map depicting the most "iconic" restaurant chain from each state?  

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Tags: restaurant chain

When the Physical and Virtual Collide in the Back Office

Posted on Mon, June 02, 2014

There are two kinds of back offices.  There's the one we all try to avoid - you know, the prototypical restaurant manager’s back office and then there's the virtual back office...

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Peter Cancro, Founder and CEO of Jersey Mike’s Talks Business

Posted on Mon, May 12, 2014

We love it when our customers succeed.  It's the smart finance, operations, and technology teams that understand it takes a lot more than just great food to grow into an industry power-player.  Jersey Mike's Subs is proof-positive that technology can be leveraged to help a brand support it's franchise base with tools and services that help their franchisees win -- long-term.

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Tags: restaurant back office, actual vs. theoretical report, restaurant point of sale, restaurant system

What Should Your Restaurant Data Be Telling You?

Posted on Thu, February 06, 2014

As restaurant owners and management teams look at 2014 and beyond, there a series of key questions that they should be asking and need to ensure their ability to track and respond to the answers.  The focus of this blog will be about the real world issues and responses and not as much about the much hyped "Big Data" discussion.

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Tags: business intelligence, forecasting, sales forecasting, labor cost, restaurant sales forecasting

New Year’s Resolutions for Restaurant Technology Executives

Posted on Mon, January 13, 2014

Matt Klyman here.  To all my blog readers, a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!  As I counted down the seconds this New Year’s eve and watched the ball drop in Times Square, I found myself reflecting on resolutions, both personal and professional, that I would be making this year of 2014.  In no specific order, they are:

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Tags: enterprise reporting, restaurant food cost, restaurant food costs, restaurant back office, workforce management, business intelligence, actual vs. theoretical report

Just for fun!


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