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Tenzo Puts Data at Restaurants’ Service

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Tenzo’s app looks at all the relevant data and tells restaurant managers how to improve the service (image via bit.ly/2fw9PBF )

Managing a restaurant, very often, means winging it and hoping for the best. It is not necessarily clear what time a place should open and close, how many staff members are needed on a given day, and how much of each food should be ordered every week.  Sure, observation and some back-of-the-napkin calculation can help tweak the way an eatery is run— but that is still far from accurate, and can result in financial loss.

Christian Mouysset—a computer scientist who also happened to run restaurant chain Hummus Bros.— experienced this problem first-hand. In his opinion, a fundamental issue was the lack of clear, structured information about his resaturants’ workings.

“I was making dozens of decisions every day without  having access to the underlying data— because the data was fragmented and I would have had to look through thousands of reports and sparse figures,” he said.

“What would eventually happen was that my team and I would be making decisions based on our guts, because we didn’t have time to look at the data.”

To solve that, he decided to team up with his university fried Adam Taylor and create a system that would allow restaurateurs to make the best possible decisions on the basis of verified, hard facts.

The result is Tenzo, a mobile and desktop app that uses data and machine learning to suggest the best course of action.
The name comes from the Japanese word designating the cook of a Buddhist monastery— the idea being that the technology will take care of everything with Zen-like calm and effectiveness.

What Tenzo does, Mouysset explains, is pulling data from multiple sources — from the restaurant’s point-of-sale (POS), to weather data, to online reviews and social media sentiment about the place— and analyse it to extract the relevant insights, which are then notified to managers.

“To give you an example, let’s say that we look at the last six Fridays in a row— you currently close  at 6pm, but the app looks at  POS transactions and notices you always go quiet from 4pm on… that means you should close at 4 pm,” Mouysset says.  “Or it could realise that some products you serve at breakfats are not selling at all, and you should consider delisting them.”

Tenzo can also work out what each member of the staff is best and quickest at, which allows managers to optimise their rota systems accordingly; or it can look at local temperature trends and flag up, for instance, that next week will be too cold to keep ice-cream on the menu.

“And it’ll look at the words people are using to describe  you on social media, so you can take corrective action if something is taking flak,” Mouysset explains.

The secret of Tenzo, he says, is that the app gives users clear, actionable insights as opposed to long, complex data spreadsheets.

“It’ll just say to you ‘Every friday for the past N weeks you opened at 6 o clock but you’re quiet from 4 o clock’. Then of course you can click on the alert and see the detailed analysis, but if not you’ll just get the info you need, very very quickly.”

The company was created in February 2016 and struck a partnership with three “alpha customers” —including American fast food chain Wendy’s— who provided five years of data to train Tenzo’s machine learning system. The app is currently used by five business across fifty locations , especially in the US and in London— where the company is based.

Results, according to Mouysset, are extremely encouraging as per the technology’s potential.

“We showed  Wendy’s that the speed of service at their tills could be improved by ten times by scheduling staff in a certain way,” he says. “We’ve seen some of our customers closing their branches earlier or later because of the data we were pushing, and they’ve seen an improvement in their profitability.”

The company has already received a $120,000 investment from global accelerator Techstars, and it is now in the process of raising its seed round by the end of December.

 

 

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