Restaurant Sales Forecast: How to Forecast Restaurant Sales

Joanna Okedara
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    Running a restaurant business is like performing a culinary balancing act. You have to whip up delectable dishes, keep customers moving down the sales pipeline and coming back for more, and, of course, make sure those profit margins are as satisfying as your signature dessert. 

    But how can you predict the financial success of your eatery and plan for the future with confidence? That's where the magic of restaurant sales forecasting comes into play!

    Key Takeaway: Whether you're dreaming of opening your own cozy café, a bustling pizzeria, or a trendy fine dining establishment, understanding your future sales is critical for sales management success. After all, nobody wants to be caught off guard with empty tables or a shortage of wholesale restaurant supplies when hungry customers come knocking.

    The truth is having a solid grasp of your sales forecast can help you make informed decisions, set realistic goals, and ensure your restaurant business thrives. You don't need to be a math whiz or have a crystal ball to forecast your restaurant sales effectively.

    Picture this - you're the owner of a charming neighborhood café called "The Daily Grind." As you sip your morning coffee, you ponder the art of restaurant sales forecasting. So, what exactly is it?


    What is Restaurant Sales Forecasting?

    Restaurant sales forecasting is the process of predicting upcoming sales volume using historical data and other available sales metrics. Just like other sales forecasting methods, it involves analyzing current restaurant industry trends, sales data, economic conditions, and making assumptions about future trends.

    In a nutshell, restaurant sales forecasting is like having a crystal ball for your restaurant's financial future. It's the process of predicting how much moolah your restaurant will rake in over a given period. 

    In truth, it's not just about playing a guessing game—it's a strategic approach to help you make smarter business decisions.

    Let's look at a practical example to make things crystal clear. 

    At The Daily Grind, you've gathered historical sales data from the past year. You carefully analyze your records and spot a trend - during the weekdays, you see a surge in sales during breakfast and lunch hours, as busy professionals pop in for a quick caffeine fix and grab a bite to-go.

    Now, restaurant sales forecasting isn't all about looking back. You also consider various factors that impact your eCommerce sales. 

    For instance, you notice that when local schools are on vacation, families tend to drop by for a leisurely brunch. Let's not forget those glorious summer days when your outdoor seating area is buzzing with customers soaking up the sun and sipping on iced matcha coffees.

    eCommerce marketing plays a role too. You recall a recent social commerce campaign you ran that offered a special discount on your signature baked goods online. It attracted a whole flock of sugar enthusiasts, boosting your sales for a limited period.

    But wait, there's more! Restaurant seasonality also shapes your café's sales. As autumn rolls around, customers cozy up to pumpkin-flavored drinks, while in the scorching summer heat, your refreshing smoothies fly off the counter.

    Now, armed with all this juicy data, you whip out your metaphorical forecasting utensils. You apply forecasting models that take into account historical trends, seasonal variations, special events, and other factors that influence your café's sales.

    Voilà! Your sales forecast emerges—a projection of how much revenue you can expect to generate in the upcoming weeks or months. This forecast helps you make informed decisions about wholesale inventory management, staff scheduling, and even marketing initiatives. 

    You can stock up on the right amount of wholesale coffee beans, ensure you have enough baristas on the clock during peak hours. Also, you can plan promotions strategically to drive foot traffic during slower periods.

    By embracing the power of restaurant sales forecasting, you become the master of your café's destiny. It's like having a secret ingredient that enhances your decision-making, boosts your profitability, and keeps your customers satisfied with that perfect cup of coffee or scrumptious pastry.


    What Type of Forecasting is Done in Restaurants?

    In the world of restaurants, various types of forecasting are done to stay ahead of the game and keep those delicious dishes coming out of the kitchen. Let's dig into a few common types of forecasting you'll find in restaurants.

    • Sales Forecasting: This is the bread and butter of restaurant forecasting. Sales forecasting involves predicting the future revenue and volume of sales for a specific period, like a day, a week, or a month. It helps restaurants estimate how many hungry customers will walk through their doors and how much dough they'll be rolling in.
    • Demand Forecasting: The art of predicting what your customers will crave. Demand forecasting focuses on anticipating the quantity and types of dishes that will be in high demand during different times of the day, week, or year. It helps chefs and kitchen staff prep the right ingredients and ensure they have enough mouthwatering options available.
    • Inventory Forecasting: Nobody likes running out of ingredients, right? That's where inventory forecasting comes into play. Restaurants use this type of forecasting to estimate how much of each ingredient they need to have on hand. From fresh produce to wholesale spices and seasonings, having accurate inventory forecasts saves them from running out of key ingredients and keeps their menu options intact.
    • Labor Forecasting: Behind every great restaurant is a well-orchestrated team, and labor forecasting ensures they have enough staff to provide top-notch service. This type of forecasting involves predicting how many servers, sous chefs, bartenders, and other team members are needed to handle customer demand. It prevents long waits for food, ensures smooth operations, and keeps everyone working in harmony.
    • Menu Engineering: Ever wondered how restaurants decide which dishes to feature prominently on their menu design? That's where menu engineering forecasting comes in. It involves analyzing the popularity and profitability of different menu items to determine which ones should take center stage. By identifying the stars and hidden gems on the menu, restaurants can optimize their offerings and boost overall sales.

    How to Forecast Restaurant Sales

    Here's how to forecast restaurant sales like a seasoned restaurant sales manager:

    Gather Historical Sales Data

    First things first, grab a big scoop of historical sales data from your restaurant's records. Look back at previous weeks, months, or even years to understand how your sales have fluctuated over time. 

    This treasure trove of information will be your crystal ball for predicting future sales.

    Identify Trends and Patterns

    Time to put on your detective hat and search for trends and patterns in your sales data. Look for recurring spikes or slumps in sales during certain days, weeks, or seasons. 

    Maybe Taco Tuesdays bring in a fiesta of customers, or summer weekends are a hit for patio dining. By spotting these trends, you can better anticipate future sales trends and adjust your strategies accordingly.

    Factor in External Influences

    Now, let's stir in a pinch of external influences that can impact your sales. Consider local events, holidays, or festivals that could draw more hungry customers to your doorstep. 

    Think about seasonal variations—ice cream sales may soar in the summer, while warming soups might be popular during colder months. Don't forget to account for changes in the local economy or nearby competition as well.

    Analyze Marketing Efforts

    Time to spice things up with restaurant marketing analysis. Take a look at the impact of your past eCommerce marketing automation campaigns and promotions. 

    Did that Instagram contest bring in a flock of foodies? Did your eCommerce email marketing newsletter lead to a surge in group reservations? By identifying which marketing efforts sizzle and which fizzle, you can fine-tune your promotional strategies for future success.

    Leverage Technology and Tools

    It's time to enlist the help of modern sales automation tools and technology. Consider using restaurant management software or specialized forecasting tools that can crunch numbers and provide more accurate predictions. 

    These handy helpers can save you time, effort, and even stir up some extra insights to enhance your forecasting recipe.

    Review and Adjust

    Just like a good chef tastes and adjusts throughout the cooking process, don't forget to review and adjust your sales forecast. Regularly compare your forecasted sales with the actual numbers as time goes on. 

    If your forecasts are consistently off the mark, it's time to tweak your ingredients and refine your approach. Remember, forecasting is an ongoing process, not a one-time affair.


    What is an Example of a Sales Forecast?

    Imagine you're the owner of TasteBuds Bistro, a cozy and popular eatery in a bustling city. As you gear up for the upcoming year, you want to create a sales forecast to guide your business decisions. 

    Here's how it might look:

    Month: January 

    • Forecasted Sales: $45,000 
    • Reasoning: January tends to be a slower month after the holiday season. However, we anticipate a steady flow of customers seeking comfort food and cozy dining experiences to combat the winter blues.

    Month: February 

    • Forecasted Sales: $50,000 
    • Reasoning: Valentine's Day falls in February, which typically boosts sales. We expect couples and friends to celebrate with special meals and intimate dining experiences.

    Month: March 

    • Forecasted Sales: $55,000 
    • Reasoning: As spring arrives, we anticipate an increase in foot traffic from locals and tourists exploring the city. Additionally, St. Patrick's Day festivities can bring in a surge of customers.

    Month: April 

    • Forecasted Sales: $60,000 
    • Reasoning: With the arrival of pleasant weather, outdoor dining becomes popular. We anticipate more customers flocking to our patio, increasing our sales potential.

    Month: May 

    • Forecasted Sales: $70,000 
    • Reasoning: May marks the beginning of the busy tourist season in our city. With more visitors exploring the area, we expect a boost in sales from both tourists and locals.

    Month: June 

    • Forecasted Sales: $75,000 
    • Reasoning: Summer is in full swing, and our patio seating becomes even more popular. Increased outdoor dining options combined with the city's summer events and festivals contribute to higher sales.

    This sales forecast for TasteBuds Bistro provides a month-by-month estimation of expected revenues throughout for half of the year. With this information, you can plan your inventory, staffing, and restaurant business marketing efforts accordingly, ensuring a smooth operation and maximum profitability.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Restaurant Sales Forecast

    One thing to remember when making a restaurant sales forecast is that it is not always a guaranteed prediction of upcoming sales. You will need to review your numbers constantly. 

    You can make use of sales forecasting software and tools to automate your restaurant sales forecasting process. Let’s answer a few common questions about restaurant sales forecasting:

    What are the two components of forecasting restaurant sales?

    The two components of forecasting restaurant sales are:

    • Historical data
    • External factors

    What are 3 specific factors for sales forecast?

    The three specific factors for sales forecast include:

    • Market demand
    • Marketing and promotions
    • Competitive landscape

    What is the best formula to forecast sales?

    The best formula to forecast sales is:

    Projected Sales = Average Check (per customer) x Number of Customers x Timeframe

    The average check represents the average amount a customer spends during their visit. Multiply this by the estimated number of customers you expect to serve within your desired timeframe (e.g., daily, monthly, annually).

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