management | 7 mins read

Business Forecasting Defined and Why it's Valuable to Your Restaurant

business forecasting defined and why its valuable to your restaurant
Michelle Jaco

By Michelle Jaco

Introduction

What a gift it would be if we could predict the future. We'd be able to anticipate the curveballs, while also intentionally create the outcome of our own success. Such a magical concept is surprisingly not too far off when it comes to the business world.

To define business forecasting in its most simple form is to describe it as the estimation or prediction of future business developments, such as profits, expenditures, and sales.

Like any other business, restaurants require regular forecast monitoring, as you can experience alternating seasons of business making way for either downtime or traffic surges.

The best business forecasts result from good judgment, sound instincts, and experience. However, some estimations may only be accurately calculated with a little help from technology.

Great Expectations in a Tricky Market

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Sometimes, the market takes an unexpected swing and the changing fluctuations can take an unexpected spiral for the worst, having adverse effects on profit margins. Of the industries that are greatly affected, the restaurant market has one of the highest levels of exposure.

Business forecasting will help you anticipate these economic trends. With this information, you will have time to prepare to either counteract or benefit from them.

For instance, if the restaurant industry envisions an economic downtime, you will cut down on hiring, production quotas, and stocking up on inventory.

On the contrary, if you expect a boost in traffic, you will need to take the necessary measures to maximize profits. Good business forecasts will help restaurant managers and owners adapt to such changes in the economy.

Annual averages are sometimes a better route to take because abrupt changes in the economic climate may cause havoc with the quarterly measurements. This is due to the fact that you can experience alternating seasons of business making way for either downtime or traffic surges.

Every brand is different, and it's best to choose the direction that best fits your restaurant's needs and trends.

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History of Business Forecasting

Modern business forecasting traces its roots back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. There was a need to understand and correct the global economic disaster. It led to the emergence of statistical compilations and the evolution of the relevant analysis techniques.

Businesses started to pay close attention to future anticipation. Several consultation firms began to evolve to help companies and governments with forecasting. Given the fluctuations in the restaurant industry, it was among the primary beneficiaries of this invention.

Business forecasting begins by surveying your industry. In addition to the initial review, you should determine the extent to which your share in the restaurant market will vary during the period.

Currently, business specialists use special programs and computers to do business forecasting. The design of these tools helps model out the economic future. Most of these programs are founded on macroeconomic models.

The top scholar in developing forecasting economic models is Lawrence Klein. His work in financial modeling made him the winner of the Nobel Prize in 1980. Klein came up with so many forecasting systems over 30 years.

The most popular forecasting models are DRI (Data resource Inc. and the Chase Manhattan Bank model. The designer puts together forecasting programs that run as a system of mathematical equations. Each forecasting model has several equations.

Modern systems have a long list of variables that they use in forecasting. The choice of the variables depends on what is ideal for your industry. For instance, what applies to the restaurant industry is very different to and industry like the car manufacturing sector.

Forecasting experts also examine some external variables monetary policy, taxation, government expenditure, and population. The experts have to understand how each affects future developments and trends in the restaurant industry.

Business experts use these statistics to create business forecasts for the next week, month, quarter, year, etc. Business forecasting can occur at three primary levels, including the national level, market or industry level, and the individual firm level.

Some restaurants even prepare forecasts for one, two, or even three years. However, it is good to include quarterly forecasts that span within the same time horizon. Some restaurants require weekly or monthly estimates, while others focus on the longer term, like annual.

Your requirements depend on the size of your restaurant and location. The market has several tools that can help in restaurant forecasting.

Going through the customer reviews will help you to make an educated decision. You need to choose a forecasting tool that has a proven track record of delivering exemplary results within the hospitality industry.

The Future of Restaurant Forecasting

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Restaurants spend some dollars on business forecasting. However, some forecasts may not be on target, especially during turbulent economic times.

Making accurate forecasts is harder for manufacturers of durable goods like appliances and automobiles. The reason is that selling these items is subject to so many extreme variations. However, developers have come up with more sophisticated techniques to help with business forecasting in these industries.

The beauty of the restaurant industry is that it generates more precise results when it comes to business forecasting. The secret is to get a forecasting tool from a reputable brand. You will be sure to receive and review figures that are reliable and helpful.

We have executives who are not happy with the business forecasts that they get. The results depend on the macro-economic variables that the model utilizes. You don't want a tool that will cost you too much, yet reveal too little.

You have to rely on the indicators that are available for the restaurant industry and are highly reliable. Reputable developers go to the field with the restaurant staff to forecast the factors that matter most.

Executives are looking for better ways to forecast in the restaurant industry. Some of the widely used measures are disposable personal income and Gross National Product. Experts also use other industry-specific standards to design business forecasting tools.

You should know whether the economic indicators in question will fall or rise. It helps the software to predict the demand in your restaurant in a more precise manner. No business will survive accurately in the modern restaurant industry in the absence of this forecasting tool.

Like other industries, no single economic indicator will help predict the future. Some designers utilize the monthly consumer confidence index. Others also study the market in line with the other restaurants.

Interest rates can also have an influence depending on the prevailing circumstances. High or low-interest rates will determine the number of people willing to visit the restaurant. The tool should pay attention to all the factors that influence the demand for restaurants.

Most experts take one of the multiple indicators and build them into economic models that are tailor-made for the restaurant industry.

Why Business Forecasting is Important to the Restaurant Industry

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Business forecasting entails the use of insights, data, experience, and analytics to make a prediction. The process helps you respond to the various needs of your restaurant.

The insights that you get from business forecasting allow your restaurant to optimize and automate business processes. The whole process will help you make better decisions for your restaurant.

Business forecasting is not only for something that we will experience the following week. Even though it is part of it, it encompasses all things that identify the chances of a future outcome.

It also uses analytics to provide comparative for data-driven business decisions. As a result, you will be equipped for the daily running of your restaurant and for planning in the long-run. These projected variables include

A. Inventory
You can break down the expected sales of your restaurant per day, week, month, or year. You can also go ahead to break down these expected sales by service. It will allow you to make forecasts with a very high level of precision.

This is especially beneficial when it comes to food waste. If you have an idea of how much traffic to expect, you will not over order on ingredients. Conversely, you will not have a shortage in supplies, which can lead to serious customer service issues and can harm the reputation of your restaurant. You will not be gambling whether the week will be busy or a bust.

Even though projections may not be perfect, the deviations will not be significant as long as you have the right tool in place to make sure that you don't over-order or under-order during critical moments. It will help you to gain customer confidence in the market.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

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B. Staffing
Staffing is a critical element like major, especially in the restaurant industry. Customer service, proper temperament, efficiency, and full floor coverage are all factors that start with employees and ultimately affect patronage.

Understaffing will lead to significant customer service issues that will make you lose your competitive advantage in the industry. On the other hand, overstaffing will increase the payroll, unnecessarily increasing labor costs.

Labor is the primary source of expenditure in any restaurant, regardless if the brand is big or small. If you own a restaurant, you have to make the wisest staffing decisions. You should have ideal labor to cost ratio at all times. Staff shortage during a busy night will compromise the level of customer service.

You have to strike a balance between permanent and casual workers in your restaurant. Staffing is a delicate matter that can either make or break your reputation. With an excellent business forecasting tool, you will be able to get the average turnover on your seats.

It will also help you respond well to the seasonal fluctuations. It will help you to deal effectively with various situations that come your way. Restaurants that don't have a reliable forecasting tool will be gambling with the issue of staffing.

Such an approach is not right for any business. Go through the customer reviews to identify the tools that have been able to provide forecasts with a high level of precision.

C. Peak Times
It is good to figure out the sales estimates every day, week, and even month.

When forecasting, you should take the impact of the weather, event, and holidays into consideration. Previous sales data will help you understand the effect of weather conditions on your sales.

It will help schedule an adequate amount of staff members. If your team is not fully staffed and your forecasting shows that you need more coverage especially during the holidays then this would be a great time to grow your team.

You can also try to run new promotions when the demand is likely to be down. It is one of the main benefits of business forecasting in the restaurant industry.

D. Business Growth
Anyone who opens a restaurant anticipates growth within the shortest period possible. Good forecasting will not only assist you with the bolts and nuts. Once you analyze the low and peak seasons, you can set the best time for launching a new restaurant.

It will also tell you the best time for renovating your current restaurant. With a clear plan and detailed records, you will demonstrate to any potential investor that your brand can take new markets by storm.

It will help you access other sources of capital with a lot of ease. Business forecasting is an excellent tool to help you draw the growth strategy for your restaurant.

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