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How operators are using data to make decisions, streamline operations

Between the advent of digital takeout and delivery options and foodservice outlets from other segments clamoring for a greater share of wallet, attracting consumers has never been more difficult. For noncommercial foodservice operators in hospitals, senior living facilities, colleges and more, diners’ use of mobile apps, coupled with their growing and varied expectations of foodservice, means operators have to improve their offerings in order to stay competitive. One way operators can do this is to utilize data to help satisfy customer expectations.

Two things that every noncommercial foodservice operator must consider are what food things to stock and how much product to order—but neither of these is straightforward. At colleges and universities, offering variety to picky diners can be crucial, and in healthcare settings, feeding patients who have various ailments and needs is a challenge.

Whether catering to specialized diets or a desire for customization, one thing remains the same: Operators need help determining what to order. Data can help—here’s how.

How data can help restaurants

Ordering too little leads to a forced reduction in options offered, frustrated patrons and a loss of potential earnings.  And what about ordering too much? Well, that leads to waste.

Each of the issues posed above—ordering the right amount of food, providing variety, and reducing waste—can be eased with the use of data. However, data without scrutiny is useless, according to Heather Whitehouse, director of product management for CBORD, a provider of commerce solutions for education, healthcare and related markets. “You need analytics to provide context and uncover meaningful trends.”

With analytics, noncommercial foodservice operators can better forecast need, leading them to streamline operations and, as a result, a cost savings.

“We consider cost-per-meal and cost of goods,” says Leon Eck, a business systems analyst at the University of Notre Dame.If cost of goods is a certain percentage higher than the baseline, we take a look into why and study different areas to see where issues are. Once we isolate the information, we then act accordingly.”

The simplest way to feed a large amount of people is to order in bulk. Yet, this does not encourage variety or change. To meet diverse demands and food interests, operators can turn to analytics to recognize which new menu options are popular. “We utilize historical reporting to see what our product mix was and to consider if we made the right decision, “says Eck.

Using enterprise data can help operators make broad decisions about their kitchens, drive initiatives, and offer powerful, on-the-fly calculation and aggregation. CBORD’s Data Analytics product, an add-on for Nutrition Service Suite, Foodservice Suite, NetMenu and Fusion, provides operators with the solutions they need for these issues and more. It provides automatic warehousing of production database information, as well as access to a portal to view dashboard analytics. Best of all, it offers calculated insights for users to explore. “It has multiple layers that allow people to drill in and answer the question why did this happen,” says Whitehouse.

To assess their current state and forecast for future need, noncommercial food service operators need data and analytics. The operational insights gained will enable them to reduce waste, widen offerings and reduce costs.

This post is sponsored by CBORD

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