How to Forecast Sales Volume 

Forecasting means using previous experience to foresee future occurrences. Restaurants use forecasting to predict everything from next year’s budget to how busy Saturday night will be. These “guesstimates” help management and staff know what to expect so they can plan the work.   

These are the steps involved in forecasting:  

  1. Analyze the sales history: Knowing what items were popular at what times yields a lot of information. Consider changing the menu price for an item that is consistently in high demand or removing a poorly selling dish. If Saturday nights are always slow in January, reduce inventory and schedule fewer staff members.  
  1. Account for externalities: If a blizzard is predicted, consider closing early. On the other hand, if the restaurant has air conditioning during an August heat wave, consider increasing supplies and scheduling more staff to account for more customers.  
  1. Predict sales volume: Based on all this information, estimate how busy the operation will be for a particular service or time period. Schedule staff and deliveries of perishables accordingly.  
  1. Predict sales mix: Anticipating how many the restaurant will sell of each menu item helps to plan work. For instance, if the seared duck breast accounts for 5 percent of dinner entrée sales and the restaurant expects 100 guests this evening, expect to sell five duck breasts. (Of course, have more than five prepared, just to be safe—this isn’t an exact science.)  

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