3 reasons why your local shop needs a magic dashboard

I’ve been talking to lots of people about the nascent Magic Dashboard product, and am starting to think that it’s amazing how many businesses there are which have no particular metrics tracking (or, only in the owner’s back-of-envelope tracking). A major reason why big chains succeed is that they can afford to pay for central resources to do all sorts of things, one of those being tracking their metrics and turning that into business insight and advice, which they can then apply at scale. The Magic Dashboard dream is to make business tracking easy enough that you don’t need highly trained and highly paid analysts to tell you what’s going on; as a competent and busy business owner it could be at your fingertips right away, without you needing to worry about the stats.

Anyway, loosely inspired by the excellent Tim Harford’s piece on coffee shop economics (you should go read it here if you haven’t already, and buy his book, it is brilliant), here as a thought experiment are three ways that my favourite local coffee shop could use a magic dashboard:

  • basic daily and hourly cycles. Coffee sales follow a pretty strict day of week and hour of day pattern. Very experienced coffee shop managers get a feel for how they need to get staff and supplies in to cover these cycles, or when they need to put out extra cafe tables outside. Wouldn’t it be great as an owner to be able to skip several years of experience and get it right a lot quicker?
  • de-seasonalised trends to give a better idea of business performance. August’s sales are 10% higher than July’s … project that out a bit and it’s probably time to invest in a new coffee machine! Awesome! Except for if a normal August is 20% higher than a normal July. In which case it’s time to panic. If you’re busy making delicious coffee and worrying about your latte art, you don’t have much brain-space left for de-seasonalisation calculations. Wouldn’t it be great if the magic dashboard figured that out for you?
  • insights into fluctuations in different drink popularity. I bet that if you chucked in temperature data, hot chocolate sales would be very closely correlated with coldness. You could order in the whipped cream and marshmallows early.

All of these are things that a highly experienced ninja coffee shop owner with 20 years’ experience will do instinctively, but such an experienced person had to make a lot of mistakes and spend a lot of time learning to acquire the right instincts. Wouldn’t it be smarter to use technology to make that insight and planning easier, and concentrate on making amazingly good coffee?

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