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Hack Your Numbers: 3 Key Business Metrics to Look at Every Day


Minyang Jiang


When you’re a small business owner, there’s an enormous amount of things that demand your attention every day — and that’s just to keep your business from failing. If you want it to actually succeed and grow, there’s even more you have to keep an eye on.

As my own restaurant group has gone from one location to five and is now franchising across the Western U.S., I attribute a massive amount of this growth to my commitment to streamlining and simplifying processes allowing us to maximize our time, energy, and resources.

If you’re like I was in the beginning, you know that accurate and measurable financial reporting is one of these very important items, but it seems like it’s too complicated. Besides, there are a million other things that demand your immediate attention in your actual operations. If you mind the business, won’t the finances mind themselves?

As lovely as that philosophy may be, in actuality, knowing your numbers can take you from red to black without increasing sales or spending money, and can literally be the key factor in determining your ultimate success or failure.

We found that we could hack the numbers down to bite-size chunks that would make them easier to conceptualize and consider. By looking at just three key business metrics every single day, we could keep our focus on our numbers without being overwhelmed by them. What are these three numbers? Well, they’ll change for each business and industry, but I can tell you are what they are for us, and maybe it can inspire you to think about yours.

Guest Count

This helps us know exactly how many people ate in our restaurant, and since all partners started in the operations we can infer the flow of the day based on that number.

Guest Count, Year Prior

This is the number of guests we served the year before on that same day. This is the gold because it gives us something to compare our first number to, and if guest counts start consistently slipping below their number to beat from the previous year, we can immediately start investigating to see if there is an opportunity for improvement.


This is your money. Everyone loves to see how much came in that day and also helps to see if guest average is consistent and meeting expectations.

Looking at these numbers every 24 hours helps us to see in real time when our business is suffering, and allows us to act quickly to help us course correct.

Far more detailed numbers and information also get reported each and every day and ultimately go through higher analysis and forecasts, ending up on our comprehensive monthly financials that detail from a higher view. The monthly financials are definitely an irreplaceable tool in your business and should be given great attention. However I have found that I’m more empowered and insightful about those big numbers at the end of the month if I’ve been looking at my three easy-to-understand key numbers every single day.

Looking at these business metrics every day takes minutes and when the result is more money and a better business, it becomes a no-brainer habit. I hope you’ll consider what your three numbers might be and start getting the most out of your business by hacking your numbers.