Artificial Intelligence Finds a Home in the Restaurant Industry

Location intelligence software can help reduce restaurant placement errors.
Location intelligence software can help reduce restaurant placement errors. Thinkstock

Technology can help restauranteurs eliminate costly mistakes

Every seasoned restaurant owner or manager knows that where there is growth, once stood a significant risk. No booming business entered the game, be it opening a new location, a menu makeover, or a completely new brand, with 100 percent confidence.

But an equally seasoned restaurant owner knows that risk doesn’t always end in growth. A company with stockpiles of well-performing restaurant locations may not necessarily need to correct its mistakes with the same urgency as a smaller chain or standalone place, but the blunders do add up. Unfortunately, in this industry, there’s just no such thing as too big to fail.

The one question that every growing brand has to ask: where do we go next? The outcome of this crucial step can be especially poisonous or incredibly beneficial and depends almost entirely on how informed the decision-makers are from the start. But with the sheer volume of artificial intelligence establishing its presence in our daily lives, there is no excuse not to use it to consider every possible variable that plays into the success of your business. Clever restaurant owners are employing location intelligence to stay ahead of the game and are fully and preemptively visualizing their expansions to reduce risk.

According to CNBC, 60 percent of restaurants fail within their first year of being open, and the number one cause is location. Yet artificial intelligence can significantly reduce this risk.

Location intelligence combines real, raw data from your business with location information from massive databases to examine every variable and driver as it relates to location. It uses complex methods of analysis to predict the effect of a nearby competitor's presence on your profit. And in the spirit of true artificial intelligence, it is always learning. The right location intelligence service will predict how profitable each potential location will be to an exact level of confidence.

Companies and platforms are doing their best to prove just how much machine learning can reduce the severity of our human mistakes, but it’s up to us to trust them. Data-driven machines provide simple, elegant, and well-supported suggestions, but we are the only decision-makers. How we face adversity is what really defines our success, but the guidance we accept along the way makes all the difference. ‘Gut feelings’ just don’t cut it anymore. See the world through the extremely informed eyes of the intelligence built specifically for the growth of your business.

And the advantages of using location intelligence don’t run dry once a location has been selected. Ultimately, a variety of location and geographic information system (GIS)-based tools work to provide an incredibly sharp picture of exactly who your consumers are, wherever you go. Such clarity unveils a massive bank of useful tools that help you reach the perfect demographics. The efficacy of local and social media advertising depends almost entirely on how accurately you’ve honed in on your target.

Once you’ve hit the advertising sweet spot, use location intelligence to prepare your inventory accordingly. Different demographics may lean heavily on entirely different menu items from location to location and depend on factors you might not have considered: age, education levels, daily traffic patterns, and so much more.

Ultimately, when a hungry customer walks into a full-service restaurant, they’re looking for more than just a quick fill-up. They want to take it all in, have some human interactions, and enjoy what’s on the plate in front of them. It’s understandable that the owners of such restaurants want to keep the experience as consistently human as possible in an increasingly machine-automated world.

But here’s the thing: machines have certainly established themselves in this industry, it’s just behind the scenes. You don’t need a robot serving the food to hit maximum efficiency, but artificial intelligence can be a star player in the functionality of your businesses if you are observant and humble enough to realize your human shortcomings.

They say when someone’s really great at their job it won’t be obvious that anything was done at all. Will full-bellied customers leave wondering about all the robots that played a role in making their experience so pleasant? Probably not. What turns a customer into a happy one is simply the quality of the stimuli they receive during their meal. Use the newest generation of incredibly smart technology to reduce waste from uninformed risks and give the customer everything you’ve got. Let the machines do the dirty work while you bring out the magic that makes your brand in a way only humans can.


Hannibal Baldwin

Hannibal Baldwin is CEO and co-Founder of SiteZeus. He is a fifth generation Tampa native, and alumni of University of South Florida, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in finance.

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