Why Restaurant Sales Forecasting Methods Pay Off

Sales forecasting can make a huge impact on your restaurant. These forecasts can help you make more strategic business decisions to ensure you meet your goals or to correct issues before they become significant problems.  Sales forecasts can provide guidance as to whether you need to recruit more people or pause hiring efforts, how many people should be staffed per shift, if and when you should open another location, or if you should increase or decrease your marketing budget. They can even help you manage your inventory and determine how seasonality can affect your success.

Additionally, a sales forecast can be a powerful motivational tool for your team, establishing realistic, attainable goals. It can help you track the performance of individual employees and let you know if anyone is not meeting expectations. Most important, a sales forecast can tell you how much profit you’ll likely be bringing in over a certain period of time. That will help you know when you should invest in the restaurant (with new employees, equipment, etc.) and when you should lay low.

The Basics of Accurate Forecasting
To create forecasts that are reliable and as accurate as possible, your business needs to have three key things in place:

  • Clean, accurate data that is regularly and reliably being entered into a CRM

  • Overall (and individual) sales goals/quotas

  • An accountability process to determine why goals are not met and to make corrections

Understand that even when you have all the right components, sales forecasting may not always be as accurate as you would like. Internal factors (such as employee churn) as well as external factors (such as strength of the economy or changes in the market) can skew results.

Sales Forecasting Methods
There are a number of different sales forecasting methods, but the ones commonly used in the restaurant industry are the following:

  • Manual Forecasting – Get out your old Excel spreadsheet and do some calculations. This method allows you to manually calculate what your average nightly sales should be, and then extrapolate your best and worst-case scenarios by day, week, month and year.

    Sales forecast for the night = [# of tables] X [# of seats per table] X [average ticket size] X [# of times your tables turn over in a night]

    That gives you a forecast for the evening. You can also average in your results for nights that are slow. Once you get the estimated highs and lows, you can determine your restaurant’s weekly baseline and extrapolate from there.

    Historical Forecasting – This method allows you to make use of your historical sales data and sets a forecast that’s equal to or greater than what you sold in the same time period in the past. So, for example, if you sold $70,000 in October, you’d assume you’d make that much or more in November. To make this prediction more accurate, you can factor in month-over-month growth. While this is a quick way to get a sales forecast, historical forecasting doesn’t take seasonality into account and assumes constant buyer demand. It may be better to simply use historical data as a benchmark.

  • Multi-Variable Forecasting – This is the most advanced and accurate method of forecasting using predictive analytics covering a range of variables. This method requires an advanced enterprise solution – such as our Management Suite – and makes it easy for you to get the actionable sales forecasts you need to make the right decisions for your restaurant. These sales forecasts take into account many different variables, including historical patterns, seasonal changes, and even weather expectations. This creates the most accurate possible forecast so that you can make strategic business decisions with confidence.

Sales forecasting is an important tool and can influence every major decision that impacts your restaurant. Be sure to find the right tool to create reliable sales forecasts that empower you to make your restaurant a success.

Restaurant Magic has been providing advanced software solutions to the restaurant and hospitality industry for over 20 years. The robust Data Central Management Suite, the flagship product, is a powerful and flexible application that takes advantage of the latest technology trends to offer premier processing and analytics. With advanced forecasting, predictive scheduling and mobile technologies, Data Central has something for every problem. To learn more about Restaurant Magic and its products, call us at 1(800) 933-4711 or visit the website at RestaurantMagic.com.