In today’s digitized world, it’s no secret that data collection is occurring everywhere, in every industry. Across the nation, startup companies are bringing innovative technologies to the restaurant industry, and with them, a slew of reasons for restaurateurs to collect and analyze data in their own businesses. Collecting—and effectively analyzing—data within several facets of your restaurant can help you reach customers more effectively, refine your operation protocols, waste less food, and become more energy efficient, just to name just a few. In an industry where profit margins are razor thin, data collection and analysis can mean better profits and security for a restaurant.

The most common data collection tool used in restaurants is through Point of Sale systems. Through these systems, restaurants can see their inventory, which menu items are most popular, what a customer’s favorite meal is and when they’re most likely to come in to eat. Utilized correctly, that data can help you optimize food orders, help you predict what food items you might run out of, or decide what menu items to keep and what to throw out when redesigning a menu. Outside the kitchen, if you’re focusing on marketing, customer purchasing history can help you navigate who to send what coupons to, or what demographic to focus your online advertising for.

Data collection doesn’t stop in the front of the house. Collecting data in the back of house helps build your business as well. Internet of Things (IoT) Technology helps you keep track how much inventory is actually on hand, when food is being used, what dishes and tools are available, how equipment is performing and much more. All this data is transmitted to the cloud and delivered to managers and owners to help streamline your business operation. Paired with digital task management, IoT technology provides even more opportunity to optimize expenditures and workflows. These systems remind staff of responsibilities and provides managers with insight into how their staff is performing.

Really, these examples are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what data collection can do for your restaurant. The world of data may seem intimidating, but the payoff is so worth it when it comes to improving profits and your customers’ experiences.