Many factors come into play for a restaurant brand’s product mix analysis. After all, product mix and menu are half the reason consumers visit a restaurant in the first place!
In a case study of fast-casual restaurant Coolgreens, the brand’s VP of Operations Amanda Powell highlights how a regular product mix report helps franchise owners build prep sheets, freshen menus and—ultimately—bring in profits. Read on for Amanda’s insights, and listen to her feature on the Restaurant and Retail Revel(ations) podcast here.
First things first: here’s some background on Coolgreens as a brand. Based in Oklahoma City, Coolgreens is a fast-casual lifestyle eatery that endeavors to inspire healthy living and fuel an active lifestyle, all through their tasty and nutritious salads, wraps, grain bowls and sandwiches.
The concept was born in 2009 when Founder Tom Wolfe was training for a marathon and couldn’t find quality food in Oklahoma City to refuel his energy. Identifying a gap in the market, he started researching salad brands and ultimately created Coolgreens to fill that opening.
For Tom, it was essential that the restaurant not just be healthy, but delicious as well. Menu items are carefully conceived and seasonally aligned, which means product mix decisions are incredibly important to the brand’s overall operations.
As VP of Operations for Coolgreens, Amanda’s job looks different from day to day, but typically includes some form of information technology systems and operations as she ensures the tech behind the brand is working as needed. Her world is one of process flow, systems strategy, and yes, comparison report analysis, which at Coolgreens includes product mix reports, among others. “I’m always reevaluating the menus just to figure out ways we can become more efficient within our company and within our brand,” she says.
Perhaps it will help to start with the definition of product mix. Sometimes called product assortment or product portfolio, a product mix is the total number of product lines and individual products or services offered by a company.
The line items that make up this mix are essential building blocks in business reports. And today, data is king, which makes reporting an incredibly valuable tool for successful operators. To learn more about why data-driven business decisions are key, check out this blog post.
Of course, data is just a set of numbers without analysis to accompany it. At Coolgreens, product mix analysis is among the daily reports Amanda generates from Revel’s point of sale (POS) platform.
“We use the reporting feature on Revel daily to fill out our profits and losses (P&Ls), to track labor, sales, discounts—all those different items,” she says. “We use the product mix report a lot to find out how to build our prep sheets. For example, each market has different salads that are their number one seller, so the product mix report has just been a Godsend to us.”
Whether or not she sees it this way, part of Amanda’s role is to act as a business translator. Good reports tell a story, and it’s her job in part to make sense of the numeric stories and translate those into actionable insights for Coolgreens.
A storyline that quickly became apparent during the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic was a shift in consumer ordering preference at Coolgreens.
“All of our third-party online orders have gone up about 250% in the last two years, so people have changed a lot on how they order,” says Amanda.
Any ordering channel experiencing that level of growth is worth prioritizing and investment. For many Coolgreens customers, the company’s website was the only ordering experience and primary touchpoint they would ever have with the restaurant, so the website interface and ease of navigation emerged as a critical factor for positive guest engagement.
Additionally, for online orders placed for off-premises consumption, factors like the food’s ability to travel and present well in to-go containers were increasingly important, too. These can all be captured in a product mix restaurant report with base ingredients that are both durable and aesthetically pleasing, like hearty lettuces, grains and cabbage, for example.
As Amanda and her team glean valuable business insights from various reports for Coolgreens, it helps to have all the essential information in a single, centralized place.
Fortunately, Revel’s management console serves as that single source of truth, collecting and housing the most important figures in one spot. It serves as a product mix dashboard of sorts, as well as a place the team can quickly toggle to sales reports and menu profit leaders for their restaurants.
Especially for a brand that allows total order customization with options like “create your own salad” or “create your own grain bowl,” Coolgreens restaurant operators need for a realtime calculation of which ingredients are most popular, along with the periodic automatic replacement (or PAR) level for those high-demand items.
Having the right ingredients on hand at all times impacts guest satisfaction in a major way. And when popular ingredients simply aren’t available, managing guest expectations up front makes for a more positive experience for the ordering process. The Coolgreens team can modify their menus as needed so they don’t advertise items that are temporarily unavailable.
“Revel has been such a great addition to our brand,” says Amanda. “The Revel online ordering makes it so easy. We can take things off [the menu] as we know about supply chain shortages.”
Hopefully the supply chain will get back to a normalized state soon. In the meantime, an ordering platform with built-in flexibility is key to keeping operations flowing without disruption.
If the success Amanda and the Coolgreens restaurants are enjoying has piqued your interest, request a free demo of Revel’s POS platform today to see how our technology might help you experience similar benefits.