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It's easy for small neighborhood cafes to remember their regular customers and anticipate their orders. After all, small businesses thrive on customer service and knowing their best patrons by name. However, it's not always so simple for midsize or larger retailers, restaurants and other companies to know every customer's name and keep in routine contact with their regulars. Thankfully, though, predictive modeling tools can solve this dilemma, giving chain restaurants and other companies the chance to improve their relationships with patrons. 

Will you have your usual?
One example of just how much predictive analytics can change a restaurant's approach to its individual customers is Panera Bread. The St. Louis-based restaurant chain operates 1,972 cafes in 46 states, according to the company's website. While some staff members at a local Panera might recognize their regular customers whenever they come in, staying on top of their tastes and preferences when they process so many orders a day is next to impossible. 

"Predictive analytics helps big restaurants establish better relationships with their customers."

This is one reason why Panera put the big data it collects from its customers and their orders to use with the implementation of predictive modeling software, The National Restaurant Association noted. Restaurants much like Panera can set up online ordering and pair it with a mobile solution that employs predictive analytics. This way, the eatery's system can take note of the day, time and order that each customer makes and take into account how many times he or she frequents the establishment and which dishes he or she prefers. 

According to the NRA, the cafe can then hypothetically send a push notification or email to its individual customers asking them if they plan to come in and order their usual meal or drink for the day. With a simple swipe or the push of a button, the patron can then send his or her order to the restaurant, thus eliminating the usual head-scratching dilemma of what to eat for lunch.

A faster and friendlier eatery
In fact, Panera isn't the only restaurant chain to use predictive analytics to better serve its customers. All Analytics noted McDonald's implements predictive tools in multiple stages from analyzing how many employees a location needs on staff during particular hours of the day to examining where a patron's eyes go when they first see a menu in the store or in the drive thru. McDonald's representatives said all this data gives the restaurants a greater chance to get customer orders right the first time and to serve patrons in a quick and friendly manner.