How to use business intelligence to fuel restaurant performance

Business intelligence is often confused with business analytics. 

Spoiler alert: They’re not the same thing — and knowing the difference between them can improve your bottom line. 

Want to know how? You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll walk you through what business intelligence actually is and how you can use it to improve your restaurant performance.

What is business intelligence? 

Business intelligence (BI) combines technologies, strategies, and practices to collect and analyse business data. It supports the decision-making process, helping businesses make data-backed decisions that drive success. 

It gives businesses a deeper understanding of their operations, customers, markets, and competitors. As a result, you can optimise processes, improve performance, and achieve their strategic objectives.

Why do restaurants use business intelligence?

There are a lot of reasons restaurants use business intelligence. But ultimately, it all comes down to the same thing:
To increase profits.

Employee serving a customer over the counter

Here are some of the things restaurants can do with business intelligence that improve the bottom line: 

  • Optimise prices. BI helps restaurants analyse market trends, customer behaviour, and competitor pricing. With this information, you can create optimal prices for menu items (while still maintaining a competitive edge).
  • Generate more revenue. By leveraging BI, you can identify opportunities to upsell, cross-sell, and target promotions effectively. For example, if you can see that cheeseburgers are top-sellers, you might create a promotion with burgers and fries to generate more revenue. 
  • Provide a better dining experience. Part of the BI process involves analysing customer behaviour, dining patterns, and feedback. As a result, you can enhance the entire dining experience. For example, adding more menu items that suit the preferences of your ideal audience. 
  • Make smart decisions. BI provides actionable insights, allowing you to make informed decisions about every part of your restaurant operation in real-time. Improve your menu planning, create marketing strategies, and upgrade your operations to cut costs and increase profit margins. 

Examples of restaurant chains using business intelligence

Want to see some restaurants using business intelligence in real life? Take a look:


McDonald’s has invested heavily in restaurant business intelligence and data analytics to improve customer experiences and operational efficiency. In this Forbes article, the company talks about applying artificial intelligence (AI) across the business: 

“Our focus on the customer and crew experience drives us to look to apply AI across the business – in high touch customer areas, and also supply chain; restaurant operations, design and development; sustainability; and even corporate functions.” Craig Brabec, former chief data analytics officer at McDonald’s. 

Using BI data and restaurant AI tools, the company has optimised menu offerings, created personalised marketing campaigns, and enhanced customer service (with things like digital ordering and delivery). 


Starbucks uses business intelligence to better understand customer needs, wants, and behaviours. 

The company analyses customer data from their loyalty programs, mobile apps, and social media channels. All of this data is processed through their Digital Flywheel program, a cloud-based AI for restaurants that provides highly accurate food and drink recommendations.

These recommendations allow the company to create a unique and personalised experience for each customer. Plus, it helps them tailor promotions, identify the most popular products, and optimise different store locations to increase profits.

How to turn restaurant analytics into business intelligence 

Take a look at some of the ways you can turn restaurant analytics into business intelligence. 

Improve operations

Restaurant analytics show you how your operations will impact restaurant performance. It analyses current and historical performance to predict how your operations will function in the future. 

So how can you turn this into business intelligence? 

With business intelligence, you focus on what’s happening now and how you can make instant changes to get better results. Nory, for example, tracks daily restaurant performance (even breaking it down hour-by-hour), allowing you to pinpoint how to maximise efficiency in real-time.

Nory sales insights

Enhance the customer experience 

Analysing customer preferences is one of the most beneficial aspects of restaurant analytics. 

The data shows you when people prefer to dine, their favourite menu items, and so on. With these insights, you can predict peak times and ensure diners get the food they want from your menu. 

Business intelligence helps you make instant changes to improve the customer experience. 

For example, you can identify popular and profitable menu items in real-time. Taking a look at the market as a whole, you can then use this information to make instant changes to your menu. 

As a result, you’ll have a menu that appeals to customers while still keeping your profit margins healthy. 

Reduce food waste

With restaurant analytics, you can identify how much food you waste in line with customer demand. This helps you optimise your inventory usage, ensuring you don’t overorder ingredients — and minimising waste in the process.

Someone using the Nory app to manage inventory

So how does business intelligence fit into the picture? 

If food is being wasted, BI will ensure that you find the root of the problem and put things right in real-time. 

If food is about to spoil, for example, you can use business intelligence to offer promotions on menu items with these ingredients. It increases the chance that people will order these items, preventing the ingredients from going to waste. 

Identify profitable stores

Restaurant analytics and business intelligence go hand in hand here. The analytics show you which stores are the most profitable, and the business intelligence helps you hone in on how to maximise this profitability.

For example, you can analyse past and current data to identify the most popular items in the profitable stores. Then, you might increase prices slightly to boost profits even further, or offer deals on different menu items to encourage diners to spend more. 

It can also help with location planning. When you spot your most profitable locations, you can use this information to inform where you open new locations. It rules out the less profitable spots and helps you choose a venue with the best chance of higher profits.

Analyse restaurant performance with Nory 

Combining business intelligence with restaurant analytics is a surefire way to improve your operations and identify ways to increase profits. 

To get started on the right foot, give Nory a try! Our restaurant management software analyses sales, live performance, and inventory data in real-time so you can make quick and informed decisions to improve your restaurant. 

Hot tip 🔥 If you’re thinking of franchising, use Nory to help you expand! Take a look at how Griolladh grew their business by 3x working with Nory. 

Take a look at how Griolladh grew their business by 3x working with Nory. 

“Nory has been with us every step of the way. It’s been incredibly helpful to the business, and has played pivotal role in the successful franchising of Griolladh.”

Read the full story
Ham and cheese toastie from Griolladh

FAQs about restaurant business intelligence 

How is business intelligence used in the hospitality industry?

In hospitality, business intelligence provides insight into the current performance of your restaurant. It helps you create benchmarks, identify market trends, and make informed decisions about your restaurant in real-time. 

How do you gather business intelligence?

It depends. You can collect business intelligence data from different sources, all depending on what information is most important to your restaurant. With Nory, for example, you can collect inventory data, sales and performance insights, productivity levels, and more. 

Business intelligence vs restaurant analytics: What’s the difference? 

The key difference relates to the past, present, and future. 

BI focuses on what has happened in the past and what’s happening now. It helps you identify current market trends so you can keep focusing on what’s going well and eliminate what’s going wrong.  

Analytics explores why these things have happened, and how it will impact future performance. It pinpoints patterns to predict future trends, helping you prepare for the future and optimise your entire restaurant operations. 

Combining both of these tactics can help you increase performance, deliver a better customer experience, and  boost profits.