Friday, November 05, 2010

Increased Profits: It’s Right On the Menu

Restaurant menus may easily be dismissed as a mere list of food selections until one takes a look at the true power it holds in making or breaking the success of any restaurant business.  The menu directly reflects your restaurant’s personality and concept, and is a major factor in its profitability. It is actually the strongest and most consistent internal-marketing tool your restaurant employs. The menu is the only advertising material for your restaurant that you can be a 100% sure will be read by the guest and will directly influence them on their food choices, as well as the amount of money that will be spent.

Thus, aside from remarkable dishes and ambiance, a well-designed and well-engineered menu should also be on top of a restaurant’s priority list. Treat the menu as if your entire food business depends on it because it really does! Ample planning and research on customer demographics and pyschographics should be done as they directly influence the type of menu and food items you should have. Several factors should also be considered: location, competition and importantly, your restaurant’s operational costs: food costs, profit, etc.

With this, a careful analysis of the salability of your food items also known as Menu Engineering should likewise be considered towards grooming your menu. Your menu should emphasize what you do well. Menu Engineering allows you to distinguish which of your food items are contributing greatly or poorly to your over-all profit, over a time period. There may be items which are popular to customers but are not as profitable, while there are items which are both popular and profitable. Some items in your menu may appear to be unpopular but is highly profitable, while some are neither popular nor profitable. Given these information you can determine and plan out which items in your menu you should push to sell or which ones are better off taken out from the list. Menu Engineering can also make it easier for you to do strategic pricing based on your current food costs, trends, etc. (For more information on Menu Engineering, you can check out this entry.)

Your menu is the constant communication tool between you and your customers so it is important that it is able to get your message across instantly. The proper placement of food items is vital for an effective menu. You might not be able to control the customers’ choices but at least, you can direct them to the choices you expect.  Items should be arranged in such as way that they will direct the diner’s attention to specific items which will greatly increase their probability of being ordered. To put it simply, the menu should highlight items that will bring the highest gross profit and lowest food cost.  This could be done through typography, color combinations, themes or making items standout by enclosing them in a box. 

Strategically arranged menu items also make it easier for the customers to navigate through the menu. This results in fewer customer complaints and thus, happier customers who eventually turn out to be loyal diners.  These loyal customers are the best source of word-of-mouth advertising which more often than not, brings in new customers.

Variety should also be present in your menu. You should be able to provide your customers with a wide array of choices but this doesn’t mean that you should be changing your menu ever so often. Always have the regular items and house specialties on your menu. You should give your customers something that they would want to always go back for. 

Truly, a well-designed menu coupled with Menu Engineering is a great way for you to boost your profits. You might just be surprised by how a simple revamping of your menu can do wonders in turning your foodservice business into a powerhouse. 
(1) Image source:
(2)  Miller, Jack E. and David V. Pavesic. Menu Pricing and Strategy: Fourth Edition. US:Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1996.

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