Restaurant Analytics: The Metrics You Should Know and Care About

Restaurant Analytics | SynergySuite

What is Restaurant Analytics?

Restaurant analytics is the practice of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data related to various aspects of restaurant operations. This includes sales data, customer behavior, inventory levels, labor costs, and more. The goal is to gain actionable insights that can lead to improved decision-making, enhanced efficiency, and increased profitability. By leveraging data, restaurant owners and managers can uncover trends, forecast future performance, and make informed choices about their business strategies.

How Restaurant Analytics Differ from General Business Analytics

While both restaurant analytics and general business analytics focus on data-driven decision-making, restaurant analytics are specifically tailored to the unique environment of the hospitality industry. This specialization takes into account the nuances of restaurant operations, such as menu item performance, table turnover rates, and peak dining times. 

Unlike general business analytics, which may apply broad principles across various industries, restaurant analytics delve into industry-specific metrics that are crucial for the success of a food service establishment. This focused approach allows restaurant managers to address challenges and opportunities that are unique to the restaurant sector, such as optimizing food costs, managing perishable inventory, and enhancing the dining experience.

Why is it Important to Collect and Analyze Restaurant Data?

Enhancing Operational Efficiency

Analytics play a pivotal role in streamlining restaurant operations. By analyzing data on sales trends, peak dining hours, and popular menu items, managers can optimize staffing levels, reduce wait times, and ensure adequate inventory levels. This leads to a more efficient operation, where resources are allocated effectively, and operational bottlenecks are minimized. Furthermore, analytics can help identify areas of waste or inefficiency, such as overstaffing during slow periods or excess inventory that leads to spoilage, enabling targeted improvements that boost overall operational efficiency.

Improving Customer Satisfaction

Understanding customer preferences and behavior is key to improving satisfaction levels. Restaurant analytics can reveal insights into dining patterns, favorite dishes, and feedback on service quality, allowing establishments to tailor their offerings to meet customer expectations better. Personalizing the dining experience based on data-driven insights can enhance customer loyalty and encourage repeat business, as patrons feel their preferences are understood and valued.

Financial Management

In the competitive restaurant industry, effective financial management is crucial for sustainability and growth. Analytics contribute significantly to budgeting, forecasting, and profitability analysis. By examining sales data, cost of goods sold (COGS), and other financial metrics, restaurant managers can identify trends, predict future revenue, and make informed decisions about pricing, cost control, and capital investment. This analytical approach to financial management helps in optimizing profit margins and ensuring the long-term success of the establishment.

Competitive Advantage

In today’s data-driven world, leveraging analytics can provide a significant competitive edge. Restaurants that utilize data for market positioning and strategic planning can better understand their competitive landscape, identify unique selling points, and target underserved market segments. Analytics can also guide marketing strategies, menu development, and service enhancements, positioning the restaurant as a leader in its category. By making informed decisions based on comprehensive data analysis, restaurants can differentiate themselves in a crowded market and attract a loyal customer base.

Collecting and analyzing restaurant data isn’t just a best practice—it’s a necessity for those aiming to thrive in the fast-paced, competitive world of hospitality. Through the strategic application of restaurant analytics, establishments can achieve operational excellence, elevate customer experiences, manage finances effectively, and carve out a distinct competitive advantage in the industry.

What Restaurant Analytics Should You Be Utilizing?

Revenue and Sales

Sales refer to the total amount of money generated by selling goods or services. In the context of a restaurant, sales would encompass the income generated from selling food and beverages to customers. This is what you would normally think of when you consider the income of a restaurant, and is usually the primary source of revenue for restaurant businesses. But sales can also include the sales of merchandise, gift cards, and other tangible goods. 

Revenue, on the other hand, is the total income generated by a business from all of its activities, including not only sales but also other sources such as interest, royalties, fees, and any other income streams. This could include renting out space or property to other businesses or for events, any sort of income generated from membership or loyalty programs, income generated from partnerships or joint promotions, or income from catering services that are above and beyond the price of just the food.

How to Calculate:

Sales is a pretty straightforward metric to calculate, as it is just the sum of all the income generated from real-time sales. This includes the sale of food in the restaurant, delivery orders, merchandise sales, and the sale of gift cards or other tangible goods. Generally, sales are typically included only when the goods are provided at the time of purchase. 

To calculate your restaurant’s revenue, you have to consider all of the sources of income for the restaurant business. 

Total Revenue = Total Sales + All other Income Streams. 

The complexity of your revenue calculation depends on the complexity of your income streams. For instance, the formula could be expanded to include a bunch of other items:

Total Revenue = Total Sales + Venue Rental Revenue + Catering Service Revenue + Merchandise Sales + Interest on Investments + Partner and Promotion Revenue …. Etc.

It’s important to keep detailed records of daily sales, which can be recorded through the point-of-sale (POS) system. Revenue can be calculated for a specific time period, like a day, week, month, or year.

Read More: Restaurant Sales and Revenue Data: What It Is, and How to Use It

Gross Profit Margin

Gross Profit Margin is a financial metric that shows the percentage of revenue that exceeds the cost of goods sold (COGS). It highlights the efficiency of a restaurant in managing its production and procurement costs relative to its sales.

How to Calculate:

Gross Profit Margin is calculated by subtracting the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) from the Total Revenue and then dividing the result by the Total Revenue. The figure is then multiplied by 100 to get a percentage.

To calculate gross profit margin, use the following formula:

Gross profit margin (%) = [(Total Revenue – Cost of Goods Sold) / Total Revenue] x 100

If your revenue encompasses more than just the sale of menu items, it would also make sense to see what the margin is just for sales, rather than taking all of your revenue into account:

Gross profit margin (%) = [(Total Sales – Cost of Goods Sold) / Total Sales] x 100

Read More: Gross Profit Margin: A Guide for Restaurants

Net Profit Margin

Net Profit Margin measures the percentage of revenue that remains as profit after all operating expenses, interest, taxes, and other costs have been deducted from total revenue. This metric is indicative of the overall profitability of the restaurant.

How to Calculate:

Net Profit Margin is calculated by subtracting all operating expenses, taxes, interest, and other expenses from the Total Revenue, dividing the result by the Total Revenue, and then multiplying by 100 to convert it into a percentage.

Net Profit Margin (%)=[(Total Revenue−Total Expenses) / Total Revenue]×100

EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization)

EBITDA is a measure of a restaurant’s overall financial performance and represents its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization are subtracted. It provides insight into the operational profitability of the business by focusing on the outcomes from its core operations.

How to Calculate:

EBITDA is calculated by adding back interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization to the net income. Alternatively, it can be calculated by starting with operating profit and then adding back depreciation and amortization expenses.

EBITDA=Net Income+Interest+Taxes+Depreciation+Amortization

Calculating EBITDA for your restaurant is a pivotal step in gaining a nuanced understanding of its operational profitability. The formula involves starting with the net income and adding back interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. For a restaurant, this process helps isolate the core earnings generated from daily operations, providing a clearer view of its financial health. Calculating EBITDA might seem daunting, but it’s quite straightforward. Let’s break it down:

Start with Net Profit: This is your starting point, typically found at the bottom of your income statement.

Add Back Interest: Add any interest expenses incurred.

Add Back Taxes: Include all the taxes paid during the period.

Add Back Depreciation and Amortization: These figures are usually found in your financial statements under expenses.

Read More: Understanding EBITDA for Restaurant Owners

Average Check Size

Average Check Size is a metric that represents the average amount of money spent by customers in a single transaction at a restaurant. This metric helps restaurant owners and managers understand customer spending behavior, which can inform pricing, marketing strategies, and menu design.

How to Calculate:

To calculate the Average Check Size, divide the total revenue generated in a given period by the number of checks (transactions) during the same period.

Average Check Size = Total Sales / Number of Transactions

Read More: Average Check Size: How to Manage It in Your Restaurant Business

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) refers to the direct costs attributable to the production of the goods sold by a restaurant. This includes the cost of food ingredients and beverages that are sold to customers. COGS is a critical metric for understanding the direct costs involved in the restaurant’s operations and is essential for calculating gross profit.

How to Calculate:

COGS is calculated by adding the cost of inventory at the beginning of a period to the purchases made during that period, and then subtracting the cost of inventory at the end of the period.

COGS = Opening Inventory Value + Value of New Inventory Purchases − Closing Inventory Value

This formula will tell you how much value in inventory was used over a specific time period, like a day, week, or month. 

To go one step further, you can also calculate the COGS ratio, or the percentage of sales revenue that is needed to cover the cost of the goods. 

COGS Ratio = [Cost of Goods Sold / Total Sales Revenue] * 100

Read More: COGS: Cost of Goods Sold Considerations for Your Restaurant Business

Labor Cost Percentage

Labor cost percentage measures the proportion of total sales that is spent on labor costs, including wages, salaries, and benefits for all restaurant staff. It’s an important metric for assessing how effectively a restaurant is managing its labor resources in relation to its sales.

How to Calculate:

To calculate the labor cost percentage, divide the total labor costs by the total sales for the same period, and then multiply by 100 to convert the figure into a percentage.

Labor cost percentage = (Total Revenue / Total Labor Costs) × 100

This calculation takes into account all labor-related expenses, including wages, benefits, and taxes, and expresses them as a percentage of total revenue.

Read More: Labor Cost Percentage for Restaurants: The Ins and Outs

Food Cost as a Percentage

Food cost as a percentage is a metric that represents the cost of food sold as a percentage of total sales. This figure helps restaurants understand the portion of revenue consumed by the cost of goods sold (specifically food costs), which is crucial for pricing and profitability analysis.

How to Calculate:

Food Cost as a Percentage is calculated by dividing the total food cost by the total food sales (revenue) for the same period, then multiplying by 100 to get a percentage.

The formula for food cost as a percentage is pretty simple and can be done with a basic calculator (or reporting and analytics software). First, start with the total amount of food sales (usually not including alcoholic beverages). Next, determine the cost of the food used to make the dishes sold. After that, you can calculate it as a percentage. Here’s an example:

Total sales – cost of goods sold = total gross profit

$3,000 – $1,500 = $1,500

[Total gross profit / total sales] * 100 = food cost as a percentage

1,500/3,000 = .5

.5 x 100 = 50%

Read More: Utilizing Waste and Food Cost Control Data in Restaurants

Menu Item Performance

Menu item performance is a metric that evaluates the popularity and profitability of individual items on a restaurant’s menu. It helps restaurant owners and managers determine which items are contributing most to revenue, which are underperforming, and how changes to the menu could affect overall profitability.

How to Calculate:

The ability to measure the performance of each menu item is important when it comes to restaurant menu success. The performance of menu items can be measured in several ways, each providing its own set of insights. The following are ways restaurateurs may gain insights on how to calculate menu item performance effectively.

  • Sales Volume: This fundamental calculation involves tallying the total units of a specific menu item sold over a given period. Sales Volume acts as a barometer, revealing the popularity and market demand for each dish. 
  • Profitability: This crucial calculation involves determining the net profit generated by a specific menu item, factoring in not just the revenue but also the associated costs, including ingredients, labor, and overhead. 
  • Customer Feedback: This aspect involves gauging customer satisfaction through reviews, comments, and direct feedback. Customer Feedback provides a nuanced understanding of how well a menu item resonates with patrons, offering insights into flavor profiles, presentation, and overall dining experience. 

Each of these measurements can tell you a lot about each menu item, and what might be best in terms of your menu strategy. Next, we’ll take a look at each of these to discuss what to look for when analyzing each of these points.

Read More: Menu Item Performance: Gathering and Using the Data

Prime Costs

Prime Costs represent the combined costs of the most significant expenses in a restaurant’s operation: the cost of goods sold (COGS) and the total labor costs. This metric is crucial for understanding the bulk of a restaurant’s operational expenses and is a key indicator of its overall efficiency and profitability.

How to Calculate:

Prime costs serve as the financial bedrock of any restaurant, representing the sum of two essential components: the cost of goods sold (COGS), primarily food and beverage costs, and labor expenses directly associated with the production of goods or services. In essence, prime costs encapsulate the direct expenditures tied to creating the culinary offerings that grace a restaurant’s menu. 

The cost of raw ingredients, kitchen supplies, and the wages of the kitchen staff collectively contribute to the COGS, while the labor costs encompass the compensation for the hands-on work involved in preparing and serving meals. Understanding prime costs is pivotal for restaurateurs as it provides a comprehensive view of the foundational expenses directly linked to the core operations of the establishment.

Prime Costs=COGS+Total Labor Costs

Read More: Prime Costs: Understanding and Application for Restaurants

Break Even Point

The break even point is the level of sales at which a restaurant’s total revenues equal its total costs, resulting in neither profit nor loss. Understanding the Break Even Point helps restaurant owners and managers set sales targets and pricing strategies to ensure the business is financially viable.

How to Calculate:

The break even point (in terms of sales dollars) can be calculated using the formula:

Break-even point = Total Fixed Costs / ( Average Revenue Per Guest – Average Variable Cost per Guest )

Or, if you substitute the contribution margin ratio:

Break-even point = Total Fixed Costs / Contribution Margin Ratio

Read More: The Break-Even Point: A Key to Restaurant Financial Success

Inventory Turnover Ratio

The inventory turnover ratio measures how often a restaurant sells and replaces its inventory over a given period. A higher turnover rate indicates efficient inventory management, implying that the restaurant is effectively using its inventory and reducing waste.

How to Calculate:

In simple terms, the inventory turnover ratio indicates how many times a restaurant’s inventory is sold and replaced within a specific time period, usually a year. It provides insights into how effectively you’re utilizing your inventory to generate sales and revenue.

The inventory turnover ratio is calculated by dividing the cost of goods sold (COGS) by the average inventory for the period.

Formula: Inventory Turnover Ratio = Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) / Average Inventory Value

COGS represents the total cost of the items used or sold during a specific period, typically a year. On the other hand, Average Inventory Value is the mean value of your inventory over the same period. By comparing these two figures, inventory turnover ratio quantifies how many times your restaurant’s inventory has been replenished over the course of a year.

Read More: Inventory Turnover Ratio for Restaurants: Maximizing Inventory Efficiency

Inventory Variance

Inventory variance refers to the difference between the amount of inventory a restaurant expects to have (based on records or system data) and the actual inventory available as determined by a physical count. This metric is crucial for identifying discrepancies that can indicate problems such as theft, waste, spoilage, or errors in record-keeping.

How to Calculate:

Inventory variance can be calculated by subtracting the actual inventory count from the recorded inventory level. A positive variance indicates more inventory on hand than expected, while a negative variance indicates less.

The formula for the inventory variance over a specific time period is:

Inventory Variance = ( Beginning Inventory + Purchases ) − ( Ending Inventory + Usage )

  • Beginning Inventory: Stock at the start of the period
  • Purchases: Additional stock bought during the period
  • Ending Inventory: Stock at the end of the period
  • Usage: Expected usage based on sales and recipes

Read More: Understanding Inventory Variance: Why It’s Important for Restaurants

Purchasing Cycle Time

Purchasing cycle time is the duration from when a restaurant places an order with a supplier to when the inventory is received. This metric helps restaurants understand the efficiency of their supply chain and inventory management practices.

Components of Purchasing Cycle Time:

  • Identification of Needs: Recognizing what products or ingredients are required, often determined through inventory management.
  • Supplier Selection: Choosing vendors based on factors like price, quality, and reliability.
  • Ordering: Placing orders with the chosen suppliers.
  • Processing: The period suppliers take to process your order.
  • Delivery: The transportation of goods from the supplier to your restaurant.
  • Receiving and Inspection: Accepting the delivery and ensuring the goods meet the required standards.
  • Storage and Inventory Management: Storing the supplies appropriately and updating inventory records.

Read More: Purchasing Cycle Time Optimization for Restaurant Owners

Employee Turnover Rate

Employee turnover rate measures the rate at which staff leave and are replaced in a restaurant over a certain period. High turnover rates can indicate issues with job satisfaction, workplace environment, or management practices, affecting operational efficiency and customer service.

How to Calculate:

Employee turnover rate is calculated by dividing the number of employees who left the company by the average number of employees during the period, then multiplying by 100 to express the result as a percentage.

Employee Turnover Rate (%) = ( Number of Separations / Average Number of Employees ) × 100

For example, if a restaurant started the year with 20 employees and ended with 18, and during the year 5 employees left, the calculation would be:

Turnover Rate = (5 / ((20 + 18) / 2 )) × 100 = ( 5 / 19 ) × 100 ≈ 26.32%

Read More: Restaurant Employee Turnover Rate: A Guide for Restaurant Owners

Revenue per Seat

Revenue per seat measures the average revenue generated per available seat in a restaurant over a specific period. This metric helps restaurants assess the effectiveness of their space utilization and can guide decisions on layout, capacity adjustments, and service times.

How to Calculate:

Revenue per seat is calculated by dividing the total revenue in a given period by the product of the number of seats and the number of days in that period.

Formula for Revenue per Seat (Average Cover):

Revenue per Seat = Total Revenue / Total Number of Guests

For example, if your restaurant earned $5,000 in revenue and served 200 guests in a day, your average cover would be:

Average Cover = 200 / $5,000 = $25 per seat

This means that, on average, each guest spent $25 during their visit to your restaurant.

Read More: Maximizing Revenue per Seat (Average Cover) for Your Restaurant

Sales per Man Hour (SPMH)

Sales per man hour (SPMH) measures the revenue generated per labor hour worked. This efficiency metric helps restaurants assess how effectively labor is being utilized to generate sales, indicating potential areas for labor optimization or operational improvement.

How to Calculate:

Sales per man hour is calculated by dividing the total sales by the total number of labor hours worked in the same period.

The formula for sales per man hour is straightforward:

SPMH = Total Sales / Total Labor Hours

This formula tells you how much revenue your restaurant generates for every hour worked by your employees. To calculate SPMH accurately, you need to understand the variables involved and ensure you’re working with the correct data.

Read More: Sales Per Man Hour (SPMH): Understanding and Improving it In Your Restaurant

Data Collection in Restaurants: What Data Should Be Collected and Why?

Data collection in restaurants involves gathering information crucial for making informed decisions and enhancing operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and profitability. Key data types include sales transactions, customer feedback, inventory levels, labor costs, and supplier performance. Collecting this data helps restaurants:

  • Understand customer preferences to tailor menu offerings and improve service.
  • Optimize inventory management to reduce waste and ensure availability of popular items.
  • Manage labor costs effectively by aligning staffing with demand patterns.
  • Track financial performance through analysis of revenue, costs, and profit margins.
  • Enhance marketing strategies by analyzing customer demographics and behavior.

Traditional vs. Modern Data Collection Methods in the Restaurant Industry

Traditional data collection methods often involve manual tracking and paper-based systems. This includes handwritten sales tallies, physical customer comment cards, and manual inventory counts. While these methods have been foundational, they are time-consuming and prone to human error.

Modern data collection methods leverage digital technologies to automate and streamline the process. This shift not only saves time but also increases accuracy and provides real-time insights. Examples include digital POS systems that track sales and customer interactions, automated inventory tracking systems, and online customer feedback platforms.

Technology’s Role in Data Collection: Restaurant Management Systems and More

Technology plays a pivotal role in the efficient collection of restaurant data, and can save restaurant owners and enterprise restaurant businesses thousands of hours, with minimal mistakes. Here are some of the core technologies that are the primary source of restaurant data for analysis and decision making:

  • POS Systems: These systems automate sales transactions, track customer orders, and can integrate with inventory management software to update stock levels in real time.
  • Inventory Management Software: Inventory management software provides accurate tracking of inventory levels, predicts reorder points, and can alert managers when stock is low.
  • CRM Systems: CRM systems help manage customer relationships by storing data on customer preferences, purchase history, and feedback, enabling personalized marketing and service strategies.
  • Online Reservation Tools: These tools collect data on customer booking habits, peak dining times, and special preferences, aiding in staff planning and customer service enhancement.
  • Restaurant Management System: A restaurant management system can encompass all of the technologies listed here, and compiles all the data into one easy-to-use and accessible place. A quality restaurant management system like SynergySuite can be an absolute game changer for a restaurant business. 

Ensuring Data Quality: Best Practices for Collecting Reliable and Accurate Data

Ensuring high-quality data is crucial for the validity of insights derived from it. Best practices include:

  • Regular Audits: Periodically verify data accuracy by comparing digital records with physical realities, such as manual inventory counts.
  • Staff Training: Ensure staff are properly trained on how to use data collection technologies and understand the importance of accurate data entry.
  • Data Validation Rules: Implement software features that validate data at the point of entry, reducing the chance of errors.
  • Integration of Systems: Use integrated systems that can share and validate data across different platforms, minimizing discrepancies.
  • Feedback Loops: Establish mechanisms for feedback and correction of data, allowing continuous improvement of data accuracy.

By embracing modern data collection methods and adhering to best practices for data quality, restaurants can harness the power of accurate, actionable insights to drive decision-making and achieve strategic goals. The use of technology not only streamlines the process but also unlocks new opportunities for growth and efficiency in the competitive restaurant industry.


By harnessing the insights derived from meticulously collected data, restaurant managers and owners are empowered to make informed decisions that propel their establishments forward. The strategic application of restaurant analytics touches every aspect of the restaurant’s operations, from optimizing inventory and labor costs to tailoring the dining experience to meet the evolving preferences of customers.

In an industry as dynamic and competitive as the restaurant sector, the ability to quickly adapt and respond to changes can set a business apart. Analytics offer the clarity and foresight needed to navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and sustain growth. Embracing restaurant analytics is not just about keeping pace; it’s about setting the pace, innovating, and continuously improving to delight customers and enhance profitability.

Stay on Top of Your Restaurant Analytics with SynergySuite

Being able to readily stay on top of your data, and make informed decisions based on that data, it’s absolutely critical to have implemented a quality restaurant reporting and analytics platform like SynergySuite. Many of the problems and challenges of running a restaurant can be solved or avoided with the right restaurant reporting tools. We offer restaurant analytics software that captures and presents your data in an easy-to-understand dashboard. We make it simple to use your valuable data to save time, improve profitability, and ensure compliance with regulations.

Schedule a demo today to see how SynergySuite can help you take your restaurant business to the next level.

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Leverage Technology to Manage Restaurant Labor Costs

Between increased costs, labor shortages, and socio-economic complexities - staying on top of labor costs is more important than ever for franchise owners.

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