Let me guess: You have a full house, you think you’re making money for your restaurant. Diners are cleaning their plates, you think you have your customer base under control. Your servers are pulling in the big tips, you assume you have a successful staff.  All of this might be true – or it might not. Using these metrics to run your restaurant means you’re missing key facts to help you make smart decisions for your restaurant.

Do customers recommend your restaurant? Word of mouth recommendations tell you so much more about your customer cultivation efforts than a clean plate. Your consistently full house? It doesn’t mean you’re maximizing profit per turn.  And tip percent? You are measuring how much your staff earn, but not how much your staff are earning for you.

Successfully tracking restaurant operations metrics like guest satisfaction, profitability and server performance means putting in place a data capture and reporting system — not a hard integration but one that does require work. Sadly, few independent restaurants bother.

If your POS isn’t helpful, try services like GuestMetrics and Avero. Or see how much help OpenTable or other restaurant-specific CRM tools might be. There are no excuses for ignoring key metrics to help manage your restaurant!

Every restaurant needs a loyalty tracking system that tells you how likely your customers are to recommend you and how often they dine with you. You should also know the gross margin per item and have tactics to promote high margin items. And you definitely should track your servers’ success in driving high revenue, high margin turns in addition to tip percent.

If you know these numbers you’ll make smart decisions for your restaurant based on the right metrics.