- How to Increase Your Sales Using Menu Design
- Promote the Most Profitable Items
- Consider Item Placement
- Manage Menu Size and Limit Options
- Make Clearer Menu Sections
- Consider Fonts and Colors
- Use Creative Menu Items and Descriptions
- Update Menus Regularly
- Understand Menu Food Costs
- Study Menu Pricing
- Make Menu Categorization
- Research and Investigate Competition
- Use of Food Photographs
- Establish Package Deals
- Create Prix Fixe Menus
- Embrace Seasonal Menus
Your restaurant’s menu is more than just a list of your available food and beverage products. When starting a restaurant business, your menu should be able to express your restaurant’s personality while promoting and enticing your customers with your food.
An effective menu should be able to effectively market your food. You must also emphasize your bestsellers and most profitable plates, utilize staff and equipment effectively, and even lead to more accurate forecasting of menu sales. Among the most common reasons for restaurant failure is ineffective menu design for failure to grasp the importance of this internal marketing strategy.
How to Increase Your Sales Using Menu Design
To accomplish your sales goals, you have to focus on menu engineering and design. Much of your restaurant’s success is determined by the menu, so you have to take into consideration which items are the most profitable, or which traditional and creative food selections will need to be showcased.
It is important to design your menu from the perspective of your target customers, so keep the following menu characteristics in mind:
Promote the Most Profitable Items
Menu engineers assign items into four categories: Stars, Plow horses or cash cows, puzzles, and dogs or duds. Stars are high profitability, high popularity items that should be emphasized and featured prominently. Plow horses are high profitability but high popularity items that customers don’t need to be reminded about constantly. Puzzles have high profitability but are quite low in popularity, and duds are low profitability, low popularity menu items.
This menu matrix will help you better understand your food and can help you in your categorization and design process.
Consider Item Placement
When looking at a menu, take notice where your eyes land first. If you are like most people, your eyes will land at the middle, then on the upper right corner, then upper left corner.
This is what menu engineers refer to as the Golden Triangle. This is where you put your most profitable dishes. They don’t need to be the most expensive, but they do have to be the ones with the highest profit margins.
Keep track of your sales records, however, because you may want to change your menu from time to time when the items you initially put on the Golden Triangle do not meet your profitability goals.
Manage Menu Size and Limit Options
List management matters in creating your menu. Reports say that customers usually spend an average of 109 seconds reading a restaurant menu, so you have only this amount of time to keep the attention of your customers. Make sure that you work your entire menu design and presentation around this time frame. That being said, avoid massive menu selections with sub-par quality. Instead, serve fewer items with exceptional quality to keep your customers happy.
Make Clearer Menu Sections
Arrange your menu sequentially and make sure that each section is clearly marked. Start with appetizers, soups and salads, main entrees, desserts, and finally, beverages. Have each section clearly marked with bold headings, boxes, or borders to avoid confusion in the layout. Highlight special items with stars or insignia, or put emphasis on your chef’s specialties. Limit the menu to one or two columns in order to avoid a newspaper classified ads look.
Consider Fonts and Colors
The menu’s font and color scheme should reflect your restaurant’s overall aesthetic. For instance, if you are opening a Mediterranean restaurant, you can go with a lovely white and blue color scheme with crisp, clean fonts. A sports bar could have bright colors and more playful fonts. Remember that no matter what kind of theme you are going for, avoid hard-to-read or tiny fonts in order to make it easier for your customers to read your menu.
Use Creative Menu Items and Descriptions
Make your menu more enticing by using ethnic names for your dishes if they fit, and add a bit of flair to your menu. Make a play on words if applicable, and explain what is in the dish in the item description.
You may even want to include geography or local history into your menu items to make your dishes sound more unique, or add a bit of nostalgia to your guests. Keep in mind, however, that guests have a limited attention span, so keep your descriptions brief. One or two sentences will work just fine.
Update Menus Regularly
As a restaurateur, you do not stop at creating a menu and keeping it for the next fifty years. In fact, you should make a menu at least twice per year to factor in restaurant profitability and costs. If your economy is facing an increase of prices, there could be dramatic fluctuations so you have to take a look at your profit margins and change your menu accordingly.
Understand Menu Food Costs
Ensure profitability by examining your menu from time to time. You have to know how each item is performing, and how it compares to competition. It is important for restaurateurs to conduct menu food cost analysis every six to twelve months so that you can determine what works best, and whether or not you are within your profitability margins. Knowing your profits, as well as your competitions’ pricings will help you with your own pricing strategy.
Study Menu Pricing
Your customers will likely know how your menu matches up, value-wise against your competition, so you should keep everyday items around the same price as your competition so that customers won’t see the difference to be very significant. Remember to keep the rest of your menu unique compared to the restaurants in the area to make it more enticing to diners. More than that, you can price your other items because it can’t be found at every corner.
Make Menu Categorization
In creating menu categories, keep in mind what you want your guests to draw their attention to. There are different ways to organize a menu. For instance, you can create them in order of consumption: breakfast, lunch, or dinner; appetizers, soups and salads, entrees, desserts, and beverages; or something similar. You can even choose to separate your menus for your meals if so desired.
Research and Investigate Competition
To create the right menu for your restaurant, it is essential that you do a little research first. Examine your numbers, such as your finances and sales profits. Take a look at your competitor’s menu and marketing efforts so that you will see how you can compete with them. Consider how you could relate to your neighborhood because a restaurant’s business usually comes from the residents that are living within a 10-minute drive to the location.
Take note of what you can offer that is unique compared to the other restaurants in the area, and how your prices match up for your similar offers. Knowing more about your competition will give you an advantage as far as building and pricing your restaurant’s menu.
Use of Food Photographs
Food photography can be extremely difficult, especially if executed poorly. Wrong lighting alone can make good food look flat and unappetizing, so you may want to forego food photographs. However, if you do insist on adding photos to your menu, make sure that you don’t overdo it. Use photos only to highlight your best items to avoid overwhelming your customers.
Establish Package Deals
Creating bundles will make it easier for you to prepare meals in your restaurant. Simply take two or more menu items and bundle them together to create a bundle. This is advantageous to your restaurant because customers will think that they are getting a better discount. However, they usually end up spending more money that they normally would. A well-crafted meal deal drive larger orders and more increase in your profits, so find a good strategy to capitalize on the deals.
Create Prix Fixe Menus
Prix Fixe menus offer multi-course meals with a set price. This is a common menu style in many fine dining restaurants, consisting of an appetizer, a soup, a salad, an entree, and dessert – all made with a set price per person. Prix fixe menus may include one or more selections and are usually offered during very busy days and holidays such as Valentine’s Day, New Years Eve, or even Mother’s Day, to help keep the kitchen under control and for the chef and cooks to better prepare the restaurant.
Embrace Seasonal Menus
Embracing the seasonal food trend will help your restaurant keep up with competition, at the same time, it keeps you interesting to your customers. Seasonal food and drink offerings make a significant difference on your existing menu options, and can add a dynamic element that will give you an opportunity to increase business.
Switching up your menu on a seasonal basis will help your team a chance to experiment and let their talents shine.
Remember that a well-designed menu lies in the hands of the restaurant owner or head chef. While the creative mastermind of the restaurant promotion ideas can add their insight, it is up to the owner or the menu creator to provide vision and guidance, making it a complete representation of the brand. This is why menu engineering should be taken seriously, whether you are setting up for a pop-up restaurant or thinking of creating a fine dining experience for your guests.
Keeping your branding streamlined throughout the elements of the restaurant, including your menu design, will play a vital role in the success of your restaurant because your menu does more than just inform guests what to order, it is also used for in-house marketing, and you don’t want to miss out on that.