Your menu plays a big part in the success of your restaurant, café or bar menu.
It’s responsible for enticing prospective diners to walk in the door or make that booking, winning customers’ hearts, driving repeat visits and of course, making you a healthy profit!
Here are our 17 best tips for making sure your menu is working as hard as you are.
- Make sure your menu is easy to read from any angle – consider using digital signs and blackboards.
- Set up your menu so you can you quickly and easily update, print and laminate it – in-house! It will cost you less, and give you more control over seasonal price changes, or promoting specials. And always include your menu on your website, and provide a downloadable PDF so prospective diners can print, save, or bless them – share it with friends.
- Don’t overcomplicate things. Make your menu two pages instead of four, and go for a layout with two columns of items a page to make it compact and easy to navigate.
- Position your most profitable, high-margin dishes at the beginning of each section. That’s prime position to get an item noticed and ordered.
- Consider increasing your prices. Is $13.50 instead of $13.00 for a favourite dish going to drive away customers? (It IS going to make your accountant smile).
- Spend as much time on the name of a meal as on the small print describing it. Some people will happily never read the details and order ‘Smokehouse Sausages on Sweet Potato Mash’ without a second But always provide the rest of the information below for those who want to check out the details of the slow-cooked onion and red wine jus.
- Be ruthless and slash your menu size by 10% by simply removing your least popular Who will even notice? And you’ll have fewer ingredients to source and maintain.
- Size-down! There are always over-generous or very rich dishes on every menu that even the hungriest diner struggles to finish. Cut back on wastage by downsizing it and serving on a smaller plate.
- Stay on top of the daily cost and profit of each dish and its ingredients using recipe software.
- Maximise the high returns you can get from adding those always-popular, low-cost dishes like honey chicken wings and glazed ribs.
- Don’t be afraid to change prices. People understand that out-of-season ingredients cost more. Be upfront and indicate that some prices may fluctuate depending on availability.
- Make every dish sound amazing, not home-cooked. Add a twist and some style. Scrambled eggs with chilli sambal – yes, please! Artisan sausages with onion and whiskey marmalade – bring it on!
- Be a crowd pleaser. There’s a big demand for wheat-free, low-carb, meat-free, or dairy-free dishes! Make your menu shine with your inventive interpretations, not just lacklustre accommodations of diet-sensitive diners needs. Get a rep for your amazing vegan and vegetarian options.
- Don’t forget the little ones. Refresh your kiddies menu, so it’s appealing not only to them but to their parents. Dump the dubious ‘chicken nuggets and chips’ in favour of oven-baked, panko-crumbed chicken bites and hand-cut wedges.
- Streamline the order-taking process by making sure items are self-explanatory. If it’s a mild, medium or hot dish, indicate it up front, so your waitperson doesn’t have to spell it out each time!
- Ramp up your selection of sides. Offer at least three choices of side salads, several fresh vegetable dishes and a couple of bread choices.
- Mix up your menu and keep it fresh! Top up your list of old favourites with exciting new dishes, complement hearty protein and carb-based meals with inventive salads. Make sure you have at least one warm and indulgent dessert, something cool, creamy and citrusy, and offer a (reasonably) guilt-free delight!
Work through our list and see what you can apply to make your menu shine.