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Secrets to Restaurant Success with Peter Schimpl of L’Osteria, Germany 

Peter Schimpl - L'Osteria

I’ve listened to Peter’s episode three times in a row, and I’ll probably listen to it again on my way home later today. 

His talk with Carl on The Food Service Growth Show is basically a template for the digital transformation of multi-site restaurant operations.

Peter Schimpl is the VP of Digital & IT at L’Osteria, in charge of the chain’s digitalisation. This task is challenging in any organisation, but having corporate stores, joint ventures, and franchised locations makes it even more difficult. 

I’m sure his thoughtful approach will inspire CTOs, CIOs, and Heads of Digital, guiding the industry through the transition from analogue to digital operations. 

Peter makes a strong opening statement right from the start. 

He has a clear message: don’t digitalise on a project-by-project basis. Create a digital strategy first. It sounds easy enough, but anyone who’s ever tried it knows that when there are many stakeholders, individual interests tend to prevail and hinder progress.

When everything is important, then nothing is actually important. You need a strategy, and everybody needs to work against the strategy. 

Peter Schimpl

Peter Schimpl
VP of Digital & IT at L’Osteria

Below are highlights of the conversation between Carl Jacobs, co-founder and CEO of Apicbase and Peter Schimpl.  

However, I encourage you to listen to the full episode on your favourite podcast channel or watch it on YouTube.  

The episode is jam-packed with actionable insights from an experienced CTO. 

💪 Fast Facts about L’Osteria

  • Founded in 1999 in Germany
  • Active in 8 European countries
  • 61 owned locations
  • 15 franchise partners that together own and operate 36 restaurants
  • 46 joint ventures where L’Osteria owns at least 50%
  • 2023, McWin owns the majority stake in the restaurant chain. 
  • Goal: Drive the chain’s growth across Europe.

✨ Key Insights

  • Don’t digitalise on a project-by-project basis.

    “Create a digital strategy first. Otherwise, you’ll end up with digital islands. We discussed where we wanted to go with digital and broke it down into smaller projects called bubbles. We put all the bubbles in a chart to show how they are connected. Everybody works against the strategy. The chart shows priority areas. When projects are finished, they turn green.”
  • Inventory management is mission-critical. 

“It’s crucial for us because it provides essential data we otherwise wouldn’t have. It tells how much we waste. ‘Waste’ is what we call the difference between theoretical and actual inventory. With 170 restaurants, waste can amount to millions of euros. Even if it’s only 1%, every improvement in this area translates into a massive boost to gross profits.

Inventory management gives us data points we can measure. It gives us certainty in the numbers. If we see an increase in food costs, a recipe that doesn’t work, or if the cost of sales isn’t right, this could lead to the wrong strategic decisions for the whole company. For example, should we do a brunch menu? The inventory data shows the best way forward.”

  • It’s an advantage to know your customers better than anyone else.

    “An advanced POS or CRM system wasn’t as important as it is now. Today it’s indispensable. Marketing depends on how well you know the target customer, including which channels they use, when they order, what they like and don’t like.”
  • Data is not the same as information.

    “All digital tools generate data, but data itself isn’t useful. We needed a way to translate the data into information. That’s where analytics and BI come into our ecosystem.”
  • You have to own the data.

    “I don’t mean your recipes – of course, you own your recipes. When we say ‘own our data’, we mean knowing where it comes from, how it’s processed, and how we use it. So, it’s not just about the data itself, but how it transforms into information through aggregation and calculations.

    In this context, defining KPIs is crucial. It ensures fairness and accuracy in evaluations across different locations. When KPIs are clearly defined, all restaurants are measured against the same standards, which helps in understanding true performance levels. We realised that to make the company ready for the future, we needed to own all this.”
  • Digitalisation is never ‘finished’.

    “It’s a living, breathing process. Depending on the need, things will be added, removed, or adjusted.” 
  • Ensure buy-in from franchisees.

    “You have to involve key people early on with digitalisation. In our case, that’s the franchisees. After all, they pay for the tech, so I want to ensure it works for them from an operational and financial perspective. I discuss new implementations in-depth with our franchisee panel. When it comes to testing and roll-out, I start with the corporate stores. By the time the tech reaches everyone, it’s well-tested and effective.” 
  • We don’t use the same systems in every country.

    Tax laws, for example, differ between countries. Not all POS systems support those differences. So we that happens, we work with a local POS provider. In those cases, we set the guidelines and decide together with the franchisees who the best provider is.

    Guidelines are, for example, that the system has to be cloud-based, we don’t want servers on-site, it has to work in the browser, and the system has to have open API endpoints so we can get the data out.” 
  • Data transparency empowers restaurant managers.

    “Data needs to be entered correctly. If you put rubbish in, rubbish comes out. Our managers are incentivised to enter the data because they get something in return. We give them the power to make decisions for their restaurants in the best possible way. 

Through the L’Osteria Operating System, we provide a monthly report that shows all their key metrics, such as sales, staff productivity, and costs, and how they rank against their peers. It tells them exactly how they are doing. Together, we identify 3 – 4 monthly goals to focus on. For example: What are you going to do to improve food costs or scheduling?

We also extend this approach to assistant managers, preparing them to be future leaders. They must learn to make decisions based on data, not just intuition. This hands-on experience with data helps them understand what needs to be done to improve their performance in the upcoming month.”

  • What we can learn from McDonald’s?

    “McDonald’s is five years ahead. When they do something, it’s innovation. You don’t need to be at the forefront of innovation. But some things become a standard, and then it becomes a disadvantage when you don’t have them.

    For example, people expect you to have digital kiosks or online payment options. That’s what you need to figure out: is it innovation or standard? Don’t be afraid to digitalise. If you don’t have any digitalisation, you can only improve, because it can’t get worse.”
  • Should restaurants compare themselves to QSR? 

“No, not all. Focus on your own strengths. Stick to your lane and focus on improving what you already do well. What you do need to focus on is getting your data right. The business environment is getting tougher. Having the right data will help you. Solutions like Apicbase and Lightspeed, which help you extract and use your data effectively, will become much more important. Digitalisation is now standard. Customers and staff expect it. If you use it wisely, you’ll get a lot out of it.” 

Apicbase Podcast - Peter Schimpl - L'Osteria

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