How Restaurants Can Use Customer Analytics to Increase Sales

Find out how to gather restaurant customer data and turn guest insights into proven strategies to grow your business.

6 min read
restaurant customer analytics

Operators today know the importance of restaurant customer analytics and taking a data-driven approach to grow their business. A deep understanding of customers helps restaurants improve their offerings and optimize marketing campaigns to drive more sales. 

But what kind of restaurant customer data is most valuable? How can you gather the customer insights you need? In this article, we'll discuss the benefits of analyzing restaurant customer data, methods for conducting customer research, and how restaurants can use DoorDash customer insights to grow their business. 

What are customer analytics for restaurants?

For restaurants, customer analytics means turning data about your guests into understandable insights that you can apply to your business. Operators can gather restaurant customer data to answer key questions, including:  

  • Who is our target customer?

  • What new menu items should we test?

  • Why do customers choose us over competitors?

  • How customizable should our menu items be?

  • Where should we open our next location? 

  • What brand messaging will our customers respond to?

Armed with customer analytics, restaurant operators can make informed decisions to take their business to the next level. 

Applying restaurant customer insights to grow your business

Taking the time to collect restaurant customer data to get to know your guests pays off. Here are a few ways you can transform customer insights into business growth: 

  • Increase sales: Determine your restaurant's slowest days and times, then launch a campaign to drive traffic to your store during those windows. Additionally, identify your most popular menu items and promote them to new audiences. 

  • Acquire new customers: Find out the demographics, locations, and preferences of your typical restaurant customer, then brainstorm ways to target similar people.

  • Optimize menus: Discover which menu items inspire customers to write five-star reviews,  and identify not-so-popular dishes that could be better promoted, or removed altogether.

  • Drive loyalty: Get a breakdown of new and returning customers, then strategize ways to entice them to come again (and bring friends!).

  • Improve guest experience: Understand what your customers like most about your restaurant (e.g., friendly service, fun happy hours, Instagrammable dishes), then highlight those features in your marketing campaigns.

  • Maximize marketing efforts: Identify which marketing channels bring in the most customers, then focus your advertising spend on the most effective ones. 

8 ways to gather restaurant customer data

So how do restaurant operators gather customer analytics? It's helpful to use multiple strategies to collect data about your restaurant guests. Operators can blend a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods to get the best customer insights. Here are some common strategies for gathering restaurant customer data: 

  1. Online surveys: Send a survey to your email list. Encourage participation by offering a reward, such as the chance to win a restaurant gift card or a discount on a future order. 

  2. Customer interviews: Identify your most frequent or loyal customers and conduct interviews by phone or in person. 

  3. Restaurant technology platforms: Review sales data from your point-of-sale (POS) system, customer relationship management (CRM) platform, or reservation system. 

  4. Social media: Audit customers' comments on your posts, and review user posts that tag your restaurant or location.

  5. Web analytics: Monitor your restaurant website traffic, including traffic source, to understand how viewers get to your website. 

  6. Online reviews: Read recent customer reviews from Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and other review platforms — as well as DoorDash customer reviews.

  7. Talk to your staff: Ask your front-of-house team to flag any recurring requests, questions, or positive or negative feedback from guests.  

  8. Delivery sales data: Take advantage of the valuable customer insights delivered to you by DoorDash. 

How DoorDash delivers restaurant customer analytics 

At DoorDash, we understand the power of restaurant customer data. That's why we provide a variety of customer analytics — and tools to help you capitalize on those insights — in both the Merchant Portal and Business Manager mobile app. 

Get valuable customer insights

To help you define your target audience, DoorDash partners get access to valuable insights about their customers. You can see what percentage of your DoorDash customers are new, occasional, and frequent customers — helping you determine whether to focus on acquiring new customers or driving return visits. 

Customer Insights Heatmaps Screenshots

DoorDash also helps merchants understand where their orders are coming from. With DoorDash's visual heatmaps, you can see which zip codes are driving the most orders. Restaurants can then use this data to evaluate expansion strategies, and where to open new locations. For example, Washington, D.C. pizzeria &pizza worked with DoorDash to pinpoint precisely which neighborhoods offered the most promising expansion opportunities. 

Andy Hooper

The key to competing with other pizza chains is scale. As we looked around for unique ways to reduce our footprint and become more lean for expansion, it became clear that moving our model towards delivery — and moving our kitchens closer to our delivery locations — was critical.

Andy Hooper, President & COO, &pizza

Lastly, DoorDash partners receive custom recommendations on which customers to target with DoorDash marketing tools like Sponsored Listings and Promotions — based on which customer types are frequently placing orders. 

View and respond to customer reviews

Customer reviews continue to be powerful marketing tools for restaurants, helping other diners decide whether or not to choose your restaurant. It's best practice for restaurants to respond to both negative and positive reviews and encourage customers to come back.

Responding to customer reviews increases customer reorder rate by 17%

DoorDash merchants can view and respond to DoorDash customer reviews directly in the Merchant Portal and now in the Business Manager app. You can use pre-written templates provided by DoorDash for efficiency, or write your own personalized note. Your response should aim to enhance the guest experience and entice repeat visits — which is why DoorDash makes it easy for you to reply with a discount for a future order. 

Customer Reviews Screenshots

Getting to know your restaurant customers with data

Understanding your customers is key to your restaurant's long-term success. By turning restaurant customer data into insights, operators can learn more about their guests and develop creative strategies to grow their customer base. 

Ready to dive into your restaurant customer data today? Sign up for DoorDash or if you’re already a partner, log in to your Merchant Portal to explore new customer insights. You can also view restaurant customer data by downloading the DoorDash Business Manager app.


Sara DeForest
Sara DeForest


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