This is the second post in our new series, Unexpected data-driven companies. In our previous post, you got to know how NIU Sushi stay on top of their daily data. Next company up is Shoreditch Grind, our own local espresso bar.

What started as a fun side project in June 2011 has three years later turned into a multi-branch coffee and cocktail haven. Located right on Old Street Roundabout, Shoreditch Grind has quickly become an East London staple.

David Abrahamovitch, Co-founder and CEO, told us about his obsession with data, branch-by-branch gamification and how clean data makes for a healthy business.

Mobile phone shop turned data-driven espresso bar

With the help from his friend Kaz, a Melbourne born DJ and coffee aficionado, David transformed what used to be his father's mobile phone shop into an espresso bar. As business blossomed over the years, the flagship bar in Shoreditch was soon followed by two more locations: Soho Grind in Soho, and Holborn Grind in, you guessed it, Holborn, with more locations planned for next year.


As business grew, so did the numbers. The team needed a quick and seamless way to stay on top of the numbers without having to log into multiple systems and services on the web. A data dashboard was soon up and running at the Grind, putting all their vital metrics in one place. More than anything, there was a need for a mobile optimised platform that could offer instant insight to the health of the business as the team moves around the sites, without being tied to a desktop. Abrahamovitch admits, ‘I check the dashboards compulsively on my mobile. Probably every 20 minutes, it’s quite addictive.’

A paperless system and a 4-minute maximum wait

As an espresso bar in one of London’s busiest areas, time is of the essence. Around 150 cups of coffee per hour are being served up during peak time. In order to manage East London’s caffeine thirsty crowds, Shoreditch Grind does not only monitor sales trends, but also Average Coffee Service Time. The aim: No customer should be waiting for more than 4 minutes. As the orders are registered in the Revel powered iPad tills, the duration from order to completion is being measured, with the baristas checking off each order on iPads mounted directly on the coffee machines. At a glance, management can see orders turning red as they tick over 4 minutes, and regulate wait times by moving around staff to ease the queues. This does not only help to maintain good service, but also see whether the bar is understaffed and what kind of capacity it can handle.


One dashboard for you, one dashboard for me

In total, parent company Grind & Co. has five dashboards up and running: One showing group-level stats, one dashboard per site (Shoreditch, Soho, Holborn) and one marketing dashboard monitoring social media engagement and the Black Card loyalty scheme.

Although the numbers are ticking in real-time, the dashboards are mainly used as a reporting and measurement tool, as opposed to being used responsively in day-to-day operations.
Sales figures of all sorts are dominating the dashboards: Sales compared to different points in time (day, week, month, year) and sales per category (coffee, food, alcohol). Customer count, average spend per customer and budgets are also being monitored.

Once a week, the managers sit down and review the data; compare sales performances and look at trends. Abrahamovitch puts emphasis on the importance of everyone having access to the numbers, ‘The dashboards create a sense of gamification between our different sites. Each site has their own dashboard displayed for all the staff to see on an iMac or iPad somewhere in the back of house. This allows the staff to really get into the numbers and get excited about new products and making changes to how we do things to help the business grow.’


50 percent gut backed by 100 percent data

Abrahamovitch states that because of the data visibility, they can be completely in tune with the health of the business. ‘This level of sophistication allows us to understand margin effects, make better decisions for growth and shape decisions about where we might expand. It’s 50 percent gut backed by 100 percent data.’

People close to Abrahamovitch say that he ‘shouldn’t be this connected.’ He disagrees. ‘Being able to pull up the data and see how the business is performing offers me peace of mind when I’m away, knowing that everything is running smoothly.’