Your restaurant's menu is more than just a list of products available for purchase. It becomes your brand ambassador and depicts what you are going to serve your customers. You can modify your menu with a little tweaking to persuade customers to buy certain things, order greater sizes, and sample your current specials.
There are broadly two approaches to improving your menu; a Front End approach and a Back End approach. Back end approach focuses mainly on driving up sales through various business approaches, some of which we will discuss in this article. On the other hand, the front-end approach focuses on customer psychology and aesthetic values.
First, let's talk about some of the most lucrative back end approaches in improving your restaurant's menu:
Menu engineering: The study of menu item profitability and popularity, as well as how these two criteria influence their placement on a menu, is known as menu engineering. The goal is straightforward: to enhance customer experience and gain better efficiency per product.
Initial menu-engineering that is well-executed can enhance a restaurant's profits by 10% to 15% on an ongoing basis. The idea of menu engineering is based on work done by the Boston Consulting Group in 1970 to help firms separate their offerings in a way that aids analysis and decision making. This BCG metric divides your menu into four categories: Stars, plough-horses, riddles, and dogs.
Stars: high profitability, high popularity
Plough - Horses: low profitability, high popularity
Riddles: highly profitable, low popularity
Dogs: low profitability, low popularity.
Once you get your menu classifications in line, you can strategize your menu design properly and not have to rely on a ‘hit or miss' approach. For example, while designing your menu you can highlight your star dishes and play down your ‘dogs’.
Operationally optimized menu ( eg: gravy that can be used as a base for many different dishes) You can also cut down on your costs by including operationally optimized menu items. These are the items whose base remains the same. For example, a gravy base that can be used for a number of gravy dishes on the menu. This will help in cutting down some of the cost of your products and also reduce the overall time taken in preparation since you won't have to prepare the dish from scratch.
Cost your menu: ‘costing menu’ refers to listing down each and every ingredient that goes in a dish then taking out the cost of these ingredients down to the last penny. This is done to figure the exact cost that goes into making a dish. Every establishment needs to perform this step in order to optimize its menu fully.
Now that we have shared a few of the things you can do on the back end to improve your menu, it's time to discuss the front-end approach towards menu improvement.
The front end refers to the visual aspect of a menu. Following are some of the guidelines to turn your menu into a profit center:
Visuals ( menu item arrangement, left to right)
Golden triangle: When your customer is looking at your menu their eyes focus in the center then the top right corner and then the top left corner. Therefore, it is a good idea to place high-margin dishes in the center to grab the customer's attention.
Highlighting certain items: highlighting some of the high margin dishes is a good idea for menu design. You can use various graphic elements such as boxes, circles, or pictures to highlight a certain dish.
Pictures: it is a common conception that adding more and more pictures will lead to an increased amount of orders. It is true that appetizing pictures of food can help drive orders, but too many pictures can lower their impact. Therefore it is crucial to use pictures sparingly. Add a maximum of one picture per category. Another point to keep in mind is that adding pictures can degrade the entire menu concept which is why you don't see a lot of pictures on the menu of high-end restaurants.
QSR (display menu, signage boards) If you are running a QSR restaurant, then it is a great idea to invest in signage boards. With signage boards, you can Update content on a regular basis using newer designs and layouts. It also eliminates the cost of changing the entire menu and printing a brand new one if you want to add or eliminate an existing dish in your menu. Brands may constantly update and create designs that help them grow their company using digital menu boards.
Item description ( descriptive titles how many people does it serve etc.) Your menu must pique your consumers' interest sufficiently for them to place an order. Menu descriptions, along with waiter recommendations, have the most impact on what is ordered in your restaurant. Another thing to keep in mind is that you should Include well-known and respected brand names in your description if your ingredients include goods (such as sauces and spices) that are created by well-known and recognized brand names; this enhances the sense of the item's quality.
A well-designed restaurant menu is an essential component of a successful restaurant operation. A restaurant menu is much more than a piece of paper with a list of the meals you provide, their descriptions, and prices. It can also be used to upsell your food if it is correctly designed. To tap into the potential of an optimized menu, get in touch with us. At Espangle, we help you design a menu that captures the true spirit of your restaurant and attracts customers' attention.