10 Steps to a More Profitable Menu
According to restaurant consultants interviewed by Restaurants USA magazine, re-designing your menu with a little menu engineering can improve your sales on average from 2 to 10 percent.
Use the methods below to achieve a more profitable menu.
1. Price Point Justification. Move your prices into your descriptions to avoid price-shopping by customers. Using the same typeface (or slightly smaller) and removing the dollar sign can further help the customer focus on the product, not the price.
2. Item Placement. People most often remember and buy the first two items or the last menu item in each menu category. Place your menu items with the highest gross profit in these spots on the menu.
3. Boxing. Impact 10 to 15 percent of the space on your menu by boxing menu items. As a general rule box one out of every 8 to 10 items. Boxes draw attention and usually get orders, so its best to use them on high-profit items. Too many boxes creates clutter and defeats their 'attention getting' purpose.
4. Page Positioning. On three-panel (page) menus, people most often look at the center panel first, and then move counter clockwise. On two-panel (page) menus people most often look at the top right-hand side first. Consider putting your high profit items such as specials or specialty drinks in these spots.
5. Hospitality Symbols and Icons. Stars, bullets, or other food symbol icons can make your menu unique and draw attention to menu items that you would prefer to sell. Graphics can set items apart and increase sales on those items as much as 15 percent. (Be careful with the ubiquitous Heart symbol that usually denotes 'heart-healthy' as people have learned to translate that into 'tastes awful'.)
6. Hold the Hyperbole. Keep food descriptions short because only one third of your menu is actually read. Use wherever possible 'word pictures' rather than lengthy descriptions. And do not fear white space - it allows the eyes to pause and rest.
7. Showcasing. Highlight types of foods by including menu headings such as "Fresh Pasta" or "Our Specialties" rather than using generic terms such as Entrees.
8. Know your customers. If your customers are mostly over 50, keep the typeface (font) large enough to read in dim lighting and the design uncluttered. If you're a family style restaurant, make your menus appealing to children by including colorful artwork, unusual fonts, and lots of boxed items. A white tablecloth setting calls for a more understated, simple yet tasteful design including a good quality paper stock.
9. Menu Inserts. Brand your restaurant by offering a specials menu insert that creates a sense of "You can only get this here". Menu inserts also give your servers something to talk about and keep your menu fresh. Additionally, you can use them to promote high profit specials or new items that could eventually move onto the regular menu.
10. Keep your menus clean. Customers often associate a dirty menu with a dirty kitchen. They may not walk out this time, but they are less likely to return if your menu isn't clean and sharp. So keep your menus clean by using protective menu covers that can be washed or replaced.