How One Chef Uses Data to Improve the Bottom Line

With his mechanical engineering background, it’s no surprise Chef Tim Ma finds comfort exploring the many technological advancements offered to restaurants today.

Throughout the years, Ma noticed the initial trend of technological solutions favoring a single side of the operation. “A lot of software helped the front of the house, such as reservation programs like OpenTable and Resy.” However, he acknowledged and now welcome’s the shift of solutions for the back end as well.

As Ma explains, “Especially as a chef-entrepreneur, I want to be cooking, I don’t want to be sitting in my back office having to do paperwork. So now you’re starting to see technology help out with that, to make me more efficient on the back end so I can spend less time doing stuff like accounting or ordering or inventory.”

Ma pointed out an increase in the number of companies that bundle different aspects of restaurant operations together, such as inventory and ordering like BlueCart. This saves both time and money, two commodities crucial to a restaurant's success.

“Any way that you can save five minutes here, five minutes there over the course of everything you do as an entrepreneur, that can turn into an hour you can turn into doing something else,” Ma said. As the trend of back of the house solutions continue, Ma sees more business functions becoming streamlined, especially those complimentary in nature.

Another way advancements are helping to save money are through the availability of data. For instance, by looking at your inventory and your ordering history, that kind of ability can point out errors in ordering, thus saving money the next time around.

Eliminating waste through the use of technology is another feat Ma is attempting with his restaurants. Smart ordering, controlling inventory, and instituting smart menu design to use every part of whatever you order, plus composting and ordering responsibly from people you trust and who practice the same things you do, have changed Ma’s kitchen.

Through designing a better menu, Ma attempts to use every part of a vegetable or animal, putting bones and vegetable peels in stocks and sauces. With BlueCart, Ma can quickly access past orders, order history, and compare that to sales. “Having that data in front of you, in an organized fashion, on your phone or your iPad makes it easier to control what’s going on,” Ma said.

Continue to follow along as Tim Ma, Tanya Holland, and Jehangir Mehta joins forces with us under the Zero Kitchen Waste Program.

Be sure to check out the full interview in May 2017's Edition of Entrepreneurial Chef Magazine. Article written by Founder and Publisher Shawn Wenner.