Restaurant analytics: What should you expect to pay?

| by Dave Bennett
Restaurant analytics: What should you expect to pay?

"How much does analytics cost?"

That's the question that inevitably comes up whenever I'm talking with a restaurant executive about data analytic services. Sometimes, the timing of the question is right on; other times it's a bit premature.

If I were selling pens or another commodity, the price question wouldn't be that big of a deal. A pen is a pen. You can touch it, you know what it does, how to use it and why you need it. Business intelligence software-as-a-service solutions, while not new to the restaurant industry, are not so straightforward. The benefits and use cases of these solutions are different depending on who you talk to.

Corporate operators see the benefit of analyzing different trends and data from a different perspective than franchise operators. The operations department is focused on different metrics than finance or marketing, and the results they expect are also very different. Evaluating BI is much more complicated than the purchase of a pen.

Things to consider before price

Before jumping to the price question when evaluating analytic solutions, there are a few things to consider:

  • Why am I evaluating BI/analytic solutions?What are you looking to accomplish? Is it a case of everyone else is doing it or it seems to be the current buzz? Solutions are created to solve problems. Define your problem and make sure your problem lines up with the solution. If you’re trying to solve a theft problem with a labor scheduling solution, it’s probably not going get you the results you desire. 
  • What results am I expecting? What will resolving the problem accomplish? Why does this problem need to be solved? Will it help with better-informed decision making, free up valuable time and/or  increase profits?
  • What are those results worth? If the solution is to be able to solve your problem, what is it worth to you? This isn’t just a price or hard dollar value question. There are many soft costs involved when considering a BI SaaS solution. Freeing up time and increasing efficiencies has true value that is hard to attach to a dollar figure. If your analysts can now use their time analyzing the data to spot trends and areas for improvement instead of using their time to cut and paste the data from various systems, that value will surely show on your bottom line. What if the results paid for the solution?  

Price models

There is a vast array of BI solutions available for restaurant operators to choose from. The variety of choices means there is also a variety of pricing options. They include:

  • License: for a one-time fee you can license the use of the software.This option does not include updates to the software. Sometimes, for an additional fee you can access software updates to keep your product functioning.
  • Subscription: usually a monthly fee priced either per user (like Salesforce) or per location. The subscription model means that your software is updated on a regular basis so you’ve always got the latest and greatest. Subscription fees can be broken down into monthly payments or pre-paid on an annual basis.

How to do it

Make sure who you choose works with both corporate restaurant executives and franchisees. You will want a system that integrates with POS systems, guest loyalty, inventory, speed of service, labor scheduling and a variety of other systems that makes pricing a bit complex. 

Understanding that all clients have different needs, look for a company that truly doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all pricing model.  When working with a subscription-based company, you typically pay a one-time integration fees and then monthly per unit fees. Most importantly, determine what your needs are and ask lots of questions until you find the right fit for your organization.

Cover photo: iStock

Topics: POS, Systems / Technology

Companies: Mirus Restaurant Solutions

Dave Bennett
With prior experience with Dunkin’ Brands and IBM Global Services, Dave Bennett has led Mirus through its formative years and its current growth phase. Dave holds a B.S. in Business Administration and MBA from Northeastern University. www

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