Data is the topping for burger firm Five Guys JV's Euro-expansion

Jessica Twentyman Profile picture for user jtwentyman August 16, 2018
With new stores opening frequently, the burger chain is using Looker to improve warehouse efficiency, reduce waste and keep queue times to a minimum.

five guys burger
Europe’s appetite for Barack Obama’s favourite burger shows no signs of being satisfied any time soon.

Five Guys JV, a UK-based joint venture between the original US company and the millionaire founder of Carphone Warehouse Charles Dunstone, continues to open new restaurants at a frantic clip. The company now has 84 stores in the UK, 10 in France, 10 in Spain and 2 in Germany and plans to open up in Portugal in early 2019.

That all costs money, so new stores need to be up and running efficiently in as short a time as possible. The key to that is data, says Fareldia Jefferies, integration and data warehouse manager at Five Guys JV.

Last year, the organization added reporting capabilities from Looker to its SQL Server-based data warehouse, giving store managers, district managers and back-office staff valuable insights into day-to-day operations. The results, she says, include improvements in warehouse efficiency, reduced waste and faster queue times. Five Guys JV is also using Looker to help it ensure that new store openings don’t cannibalize sales at existing stores.

A data feast

The data warehouse at Five Guys JV is stuffed with information. This includes point-of-sale data from all 106 stores, where transactions are getting close to 1 million per week, says Jefferies. This is collected in real time. There’s also ‘menuing’ data, the company’s term for store managers’ orders for the meat, buns, utensils and cleaning products, for example, that they need to run their stores. This is collected a couple of hours after an individual store closes for the day. Added to that, there’s also secret shopper data, employee information, warehouse data and forecast budgets from the finance department.

The Looker reporting tools, which went live in mid-2018, are hosted in Looker’s own cloud environment. This has proved useful, says Jefferies, because she and her team aren’t that familiar with Linux-based environments, on which Looker is based:

We did initially get it up and running in our own cloud environment, but after a month, I decided it would be best to have it with Looker's experts, so if there's any upgrade that needs doing, these guys can handle it on our behalf without me having to worry about how best we can achieve that or contact someone to come in and handle it for us. I feel that was a great decision. It also makes it easier for support, so if we run into an issue of have some struggles doing what we need to, then Looker's team have access to our instance and they can see what we've created in terms of explores, and get them running correctly.

One year on

In the year since that go-live, Jefferies says that company has seen real benefits from the reports it can now provide to staff:

In terms of procurement, we’ve got a report that shows average sales for the last four weeks, versus actual sales achieved in each store per day. This is used to monitor warehouse stock, so that if we’re understocking or overstocking a particular store on a certain day, we can take that into consideration and make corrections.

We also compare orders from suppliers made by our staff on our back-end systems with the suppliers’ prices on their invoices when they arrive, checking for variances. That makes it far easier to rectify any issues, which was previously a manual process, where guys had to go through loads of invoices on a line-by-line basis, to check for those differences in purchase and invoice prices.

Five Guys JV also plans staffing around peak hours more effectively, based on reports that show the volume of customers in 15-minute intervals, compared with the number of tills operational in a given store. A close eye is also kept on sales versus targets, store by store.

This firm grip on data also makes it possible to produce sophisticated store rankings on a year-to-date basis. These are based on comparisons of sales versus target, staffing versus target, sales versus the same day for last year, and complaints versus compliments. That’s good for efficiency and to generate healthy competition between stores.

Finally, Jefferies herself uses Looker to keep track of how staff are using the technology itself, tracking average active users per day, for example, and which are the most popular reports. Low usage can quickly be identified, helping her to plan training interventions where needed. She says:

We needed a platform that could transform our culture around data - taking it from a ‘nice to have’ to an essential component of our business data. Looker has enabled us to do just that.


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