How to Create a Profitable Menu
Menus are the restaurant’s most important sales tool. When you invest so much into digital ads or clever promotions, it’s easy to forget that you don’t just rely on drawing people into the restaurant to make a profit. Your menu works in subtler ways. What makes customers choose one dish over another: Is it the cost? The description? The pictures?
Menu engineering evaluates your prices, sales data, and food costs to generate information about which dishes to feature and how to price them. Make smarter choices about what to put on the menu and watch your daily sales grow.
Better Menu Management
Engineering Your Menu
Invest in a smarter Point of Sale to grow your business more effectively. A good POS collects data from every customer sale, whether it’s online, in-person, or via third-party service. This gives you access to real-time information with automated reports made for your convenience. When you know what dishes sell best, you can create promotions to move even more of that or shed light on items that don’t do so well.
Streamline both food and drinks for maximum profitability. If your POS indicates a lot of waste, perhaps order less at a time from vendors or raise portions and prices to suit what’s in stock. Also, keep track of food cost percentage to better price out all your options to turn a profit.
The items themselves also need to seem enticing on the page. Keep descriptions short and to the point so guests don’t have to read too many paragraphs just to find what they want for dinner. Menu engineering capabilities that come with smart POS management features let you organize your items in accordance with where customers look on the page. This subtly sells certain dishes over others. That’s right: Even placement matters.
Popularity and Profitability
All the choices you make about your menu should be to make every option either profitable, popular, or both. Classify by this metric to determine where on the page you should place an item within its food category (e.g. Sandwiches, Brunch, Seafood, etc.) to improve sales across the board.
Stars are popular and profitable.
Puzzles are profitable but not popular.
Duds are neither popular nor profitable.
These numbers are a good foundation, but supplement the information gleaned from sales data with real-life anecdotes from guests or customer surveys given at the end of a meal. Even complaints can hold key information to help you grow.
For the most accurate analysis, choose a specific time frame to track. For example, if you rotate out menus depending on what ingredients are growing locally, then analyze sales trends seasonally. If you don’t tend to change with the seasons, track growth and profit margin by quarter to get the best grasp on your business’s health.
Find what works with both your printed and digital menu. Too many items on a page can overwhelm the eye while too many sales categories overcomplicates it. Meanwhile, customers don’t like having too many options; the burden of choice gives you good reason to pare out duds.
Photo courtesy of eatOS.
Once you settle on positive changes, monitor the results to ensure continued upwards growth. Train your staff on the new menu so they work with subliminal and outright sales tools to upsell whatever promotion you’re pushing next.