First things first, your menu is the most effective tool in restaurant marketing. The menu is known to increase bottom line profits in a restaurant by 3-5%. A menu should not be designed as a task that needs to be crossed off the list. It requires an analysis into food costs, customer psychology, item prices and profit-making margins. You should do a proper review on popular and profit-making items compared to items that are holding you back. This is known as menu-engineering.
You may run a fine-dining restaurant, casual eatery or BBQ diner, but you still need to aim for maximum profitability. Here are some questions you need to answer before designing the menu.
How profitable are your items?
Most restaurant owners are not aware of how to categorize menu items and calculate the cost for each of these items. It is important that you perform a food cost analysis to be certain you are not losing money. You can also request for a menu audit which lists all specific dishes, ingredients, seasonings, cooking oil and even garnishes. Add delivery fees, return charges, interests and other expenses, minus the labour costs. The cost of purchasing and ingredients should be added up to determine the specific cost of each item.
How well are your items performing?
You may have heard terms being used on particular dishes, for instance, plow-horses, stars, dogs and puzzles. How can these dishes impact your menu design?
The stars are the stars. They are the best items on your menu. These items should be highlighted and kept consistent right throughout. Do not experiment with the stars of the menu. Promote them, however, whenever you possibly can.
The plow-horses are popular but you maybe losing money on these items. It is time to make the plow-horses more profitable without decreasing volume. You can experiment with slightly smaller portions and less expensive ingredients or by improving its appearance.
The puzzles can bring in some profits but are not easy to sell. You can lower prices or simply re-invent these dishes. The dogs, on the other hand, are not contributing to your profit. You don’t have to necessarily eliminate these items; hiding them should be sufficient.
Re-design your menu with these considerations. You can conduct an opinion poll amongst your customers, asking them what their favorite dishes are. What makes them come back to the restaurant? Do they even read the menu or is it more the atmosphere that attracts them?
Remember to highlight menu items. If you want a menu item to attract attention, place an asterisk or a box around it, you can even place a photograph next to it. You can craft beautiful descriptions for each item. Studies indicate people are more likely to order items that have been labeled and have a short description alongside it. Pique your guests’ interests and tell a story with your menu. Use evocative text and humanize the dish.