Measuring foot traffic may seem like an in-depth and data-intensive way to learn about the environment your business is in, but it’s much more common than you might think. In fact, there are even state-wide averages for restaurant foot traffic alone.
Learning how to measure foot traffic and its importance to physical businesses of all types opens the door for restaurant owners to make more informed business decisions. Basing your business ideas on foot traffic and other data points can help improve your return on investment in a variety of ways. Whether you choose to further tailor the dining experience to certain segments of your customer base, increase incentives for those segments, or simply optimize processes as you go, footfall intel can help you.
As a term, “foot traffic” is normally used to describe the number of people who visit a given location. The term itself stems from visitors to physical retail and dining locations coming in on foot. Though foot traffic may seem to be a simple concept, its importance to physical businesses of all kinds is hard to overstate. Many organizations launch full-scale investigations in areas they want to establish new branches in to gauge the usual foot traffic there. If their findings aren’t to their liking, they often end up looking elsewhere, even if it means facing higher costs up front.
Without enough foot traffic, no physical business that caters directly to consumers can hope to succeed over the long term. For food and dining establishments, this phenomenon is even more pronounced. Restaurants have to pay special attention to foot traffic numbers to ensure they can be profitable in a given location.
Tracking foot traffic can prove to be a challenge for many organizations; so much so, that some choose to outsource the process instead of handling it in-house. That being said, it’s entirely possible to learn how to measure foot traffic to a business without paying specialists to handle the process—especially if you’re willing to install the right systems in your restaurant. Here are a few ways that you can start measuring foot traffic to your restaurant:
This method relies entirely on human beings to capture approximate footfall numbers. Individuals are tasked with manually counting each and every person that visits a given location. Naturally, this approach is highly prone to inaccuracy and requires a lot of effort on the part of the people performing the counting process.
Using a security system to track foot traffic is a fair amount more accurate than manual counting. With this technique, cameras with motion-sensing capabilities and a limited field of view are used to track the number of people who pass through a specific area. Systems equipped for this sort of tracking handle processing of the visual information they collect as well, generating accurate footfall reports without much human intervention.
This technique relies on a specialized parking detection system. This system detects the number of parking spaces in your parking lot that have been occupied over the course of a day, generating a final count that roughly matches up with the amount of people who have visited.
A mobile tracking system leverages mobile device location data to track visitors to a given location via GPS. This approach is particularly useful as it tends to present an incredibly accurate and detailed description of adult foot traffic without relying on human intervention at all.
Thermal systems capture infrared radiation readings from the people, objects, and places they view. Foot traffic measuring systems that leverage thermal sensors basically capture infrared light emitted by people's bodies as heat. This makes thermal sensors capable of tracking foot traffic even in absolute darkness, which may or may not be necessary if you run a restaurant that’s open into the wee hours of the morning or primarily in the evenings.
Break beams operate similarly to full-featured thermal sensor systems in that they also use infrared light to measure movement. However, break beams work by recording foot traffic only when the invisible beam of light they transmit is temporarily broken by passersby.
Foot traffic alone can’t guarantee that your business will succeed. Although a certain amount of foot traffic is essential to keeping your restaurant's doors open, a large number of people visiting an area can prove to be inconsequential with fierce competition and high operating costs being the norm there as well. Finding a proper balance between quantity and quality matters, and making the most of the foot traffic you have available can be much more profitable than simply laying roots at the heart of an urban center.
The overall experience that you offer guests and patrons is one of the most important things to focus on as a restaurant owner. A clear understanding of your foot traffic numbers can help in improving this part of your operations. Simply knowing what times of day are the busiest can help in planning out how much staff you need. Expanding this understanding to include seasonal spikes and dips in footfall can help even more. By tracking foot traffic and customer reviews simultaneously, you can ensure your restaurant is aligning staff and service prep with the number of people showing up for a meal.
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