Today, we’re excited to announce a new feature on Hone: simple forecasting for restaurants—all without having to look at a spreadsheet!
We started Hone to help restaurants be more profitable, and we hear all the time about how restaurant operators would like to be more data-driven, how they would like to set budgets, and operate versus forecasts. With this in mind, we saw a clear need for restaurant operators to be able to quickly generate forecasts for their business, set budgets, and adjust both of these to track the performance of their business—hence, Hone’s new forecasting feature.
In this article, we’ll provide an overview of how to use forecasting to estimate sales, set budgets, and build a more data-driven business.
What is restaurant forecasting?
First off, what is forecasting? Simply put, forecasting is “the process of making predictions based on past and present data.” Essentially, it’s a prediction of how well your business will perform over a given period of time in the future.
You likely already do some form of this, whether it’s with a restaurant bookkeeper or accountant, or on your own. For example, you may have a big event coming up that your restaurant is hosting or catering, and you have to budget for labor and food costs while anticipating higher revenues. Or, perhaps January has been a slow month for your business in the past, so you’re expecting sales to dip this year as well and want to control costs and expenses accordingly.
Beyond a general expectation of how business will perform in the upcoming weeks or months, restaurant operators can now get more specific with Hone restaurant forecasting, which takes into account your seasonal and recent performance data to predict future sales.
Never pick up a spreadsheet
With running a restaurant business you’ve got enough on your plate, so we wanted this feature to be extremely easy to use—no spreadsheets required.
As your restaurant bookkeeper, Hone is already responsible for recording your data. We use this historical data to develop sales projections for your business on a weekly or monthly basis.
This high-level sales forecast is then used to project costs and expenses. Sales, costs, and expenses are then broken down into relevant subcategories, like Food Sales, Beverage Sales, Labor, and more, all represented on interactive graphs. This data will give you insights into what some of your most profitable times of the year are, and when your costs tend to be the highest.
The subcategories for costs and expenses are configurable so you can focus on what matters most—whether that’s the classic Food, Bev and Labor, or more nuanced budgets like Marketing and Linens for the operators who run a very tight ship.
While predictions can be helpful, they’re more effective if you can customize them to reflect what’s actually happening. For example, is there a big baseball game coming up that will be likely to boost sales? Are food costs going up? Did your staffing costs decrease this year?
With Hone, you can easily adjust the automated forecast to create a custom goal based on your own knowledge about future events or personal predictions. You can modify your overall sales forecast up or down, or edit individual subcategories to reflect new information.
Once you’ve landed on a forecast, we use all of that information to generate budgets that are easy to review in graphs—again, no spreadsheets here! You can also modify these budgets if, for example, you want to set tighter targets for your team on food costs or labor.
Everything look good? Hit save, and check in next week or month to see how your budgets versus actual numbers performed. Congrats, you’re now a data-driven operator!
Review your restaurant bookkeeping regularly
One of the keys to being a data-informed business is reviewing your numbers regularly, and as your restaurant bookkeeper, Hone was designed to make that as easy as possible. We recommend reviewing your forecasts and budgets week over week, or month over month.
Simply by looking at your numbers and making intentional decisions in your operations, you should start to see positive change.
Have questions? At Hone, we’re here to help. Feel free to reach out to your Hone bookkeeper if you’re currently a customer, or get in touch with us through the form below if you’re interested in bringing Hone to your restaurant operations.