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DeliveryRank: ClearCOGS 2024: A Restaurant’s BF


With a shared recognition of the long-unaddressed needs of restaurant operators, Matt Wampler and Osa co-founded ClearCOGS. Matt's journey as a restaurant owner began at just 21 years old when he purchased a struggling sandwich shop. Despite facing numerous challenges, including a broken AC and understaffing, Matt worked tirelessly to turn the business around and eventually opened multiple locations. His experiences highlighted the need for better tools and technology in the industry. Matt and Osa developed ClearCOGS, the restaurant industry's first AI operations manager, aimed at streamlining operations and increasing profitability for restaurants. DeliveryRank finds out more.




How does ClearCOGS utilize AI and advanced analytics to provide actionable insights for restaurant operations?


We integrate all of our restaurant's data, analyzing every item sold and every modifier used. Similar to a great general manager, our system evaluates changes based on the day of the week, time of day, and special events like Mother's Day. It predicts future usage based on past data, a task that would be overwhelming for a human manager to do manually for every aspect of the restaurant. Using AI, we replicate that decision-making process, analyzing hundreds of millions of data points to make more informed decisions.


The idea behind ClearCogs was born out of my own experience as a restaurateur. Over the course of nearly a decade, I owned five sandwich shops. One of the challenges we faced was knowing when to bake more bread or shut off the ovens, especially in the last two hours before closing. This decision was often made manually, by physically assessing factors like the weather and customer traffic, which was not only inefficient but also led to a lot of wasted bread. This inefficiency prompted me to explore how data science and technology could be used to improve restaurant operations and this exploration eventually led to the creation of ClearCogs.


Can you explain how ClearCOGS integrates with existing restaurant technologies and what benefits this integration offers?


There are many restaurant technology companies, including POS companies and back-end software providers, each offering different platforms for sharing data and running analyses. However, what sets us apart is our focus on the people and hospitality aspect of the business. Our approach involves pulling data from various systems and synthesizing it into a simple form that is easily understandable for the restaurant. This typically involves providing answers to daily operational questions, such as how many staff members are needed for the day, how much bread to bake, or how much meat to marinate for Friday night service. Our goal is to address these specific challenges faced by restaurants and provide practical solutions.


What specific challenges or pain points in restaurant operations does ClearCOGS aim to address?


The three critical areas we focus on are systemization, data-driven decision-making, and proactive operations. Relying solely on past experience or intuition can limit scalability and make a restaurant overly reliant on one person. This often leads to stressed-out managers who struggle to step away from the day-to-day operations. Our goal is to create systematic processes that enable better decision-making and reduce reliance on intuition.


Transitioning from gut feeling to data-driven decision-making is key in today's world, seen in industries from sports to business. By analyzing data and identifying patterns, we can make more informed decisions that are based on facts rather than intuition.


Moving from a reactive to a proactive approach is also crucial. In a restaurant, operators often have to make quick decisions based on who walks in the door. This constant reaction mode can be stressful and lead to doubts about decisions. Shifting to a proactive approach involves making decisions in advance based on data and systems in place. This shift can be liberating for restaurant staff, as they can trust in the systems and data to guide their actions, knowing they are not in trouble if things don't go as planned.


Could you share a real-world example of how ClearCOGS has helped a restaurant improve its profitability or efficiency?


There's a notable success story with Goop Kitchens, where our system was implemented, enabling operators to increase their profit margins by over 2 percentage points. While this might not seem significant to some businesses, in the restaurant industry where the average profit margin is around 4-5%, this represents a 50% increase, which can be a game-changer for staying in business or meeting financial obligations.


Another success story is with Red, White, and Q, a local BBQ establishment. By using our system to determine in advance what they needed to put on the smoker, they were able to not only streamline their operations but also reduce their food waste by approximately 40%. These examples highlight the tangible benefits of transitioning to a more data-driven and systematic approach in the restaurant industry.


What sets ClearCOGS apart from other solutions in the market, particularly in terms of its approach to data-driven decision-making in the restaurant industry?


Many companies offer a one-size-fits-all platform that provides a dashboard with a lot of data, which is then put into a new report. This approach is fundamentally different from ours. We focus on providing operators with direct answers to their questions. Instead of giving you a chart or a graph, we aim to tell you exactly what you need to know, such as the need to have 19 rotisserie chickens ready for a shift change.


Our goal is to take you all the way to the answer you need, not just 90% of the way. In a busy restaurant environment where everyone is busy putting out fires, having a direct and immediate answer is crucial. Operators don't have time to sift through dashboards and analytics. They need actionable insights that they can use right away.


In summary, our approach is centered around providing specific, actionable answers to operators' questions, helping them make informed decisions quickly and efficiently.


What are your views on the future of AI in the restaurant industry, and how do you see ClearCOGS contributing to this future landscape?


We recently obtained the registered trademark for Restaurant CoPilot, which represents our vision for the future. We aim to provide a fractional CFO and COO for every restaurant, leveraging our data to crunch the numbers and provide crucial insights. Our goal is to answer the question, "What do I need to know today?"


The restaurant industry is notoriously tough, but we believe it doesn't have to be. By streamlining the complex analytics and providing accurate information, we can reduce the number of fires operators have to put out. With the right information at the start of each day, managing a restaurant becomes much more manageable. This is where AI comes in, acting as a second hand that sits on top of your data, guiding you towards making the right decisions for smoother operations and more successful days.

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