Your restaurant, café or bar menu has a critical job – it’s your hardest working salesperson! As well as grabbing the attention of prospective diners, your menu has to offer great meal choices that will win hearts and bring your customers back time and time again. And it needs to make your accountant happy!
Check out our tips on how to get your menu in tip-top shape.
FIRST, KEEP TO THE BASICS.
- Keep it simple. Can you quickly and easily update, print and laminate your menu – preferably in-house to keep costs down?
- Keep it easy to read. Are you using digital signs and blackboards to make your menu easy to view from multiple angles?
- Keep it available. Is your full menu easy to find on your website, and is there an option to download it as a PDF so prospective diners can print, save or share it with friends?
- Keep it compact and easy to navigate. Are you spreading your menu over too many pages? Go for fewer pages, with your dishes listed in two columns.
- Keep it strategic. Have you put your most profitable, high-margin dishes in prime position at the beginning of each section?
- Keep your eye on the small stuff. Can you easily charge that extra 50 cents on a dish? Will it wear a tweak from $13.00 to $13.50? (It all adds up over a day, week or year!).
- Keep it balanced. How are your meal descriptions holding up? While some people love to linger over the details of a menu, others will choose based on the name of the meal. So keep the heading description enticing (e.g. Size of Texas T-Bone, with Super Slaw and Duck-fat Fries) and provide the rest of the information below for those who want to check out if the fries are triple-cooked.
THEN, MAKE SURE YOUR MENU IS PROFITABLE.
- Make some hard calls. You know which dishes are the least popular, so why not ditch them? You’ll have fewer ingredients to maintain, and we bet no-one will even notice they’re gone.
- Make your servings smaller. Not the dainty dishes, but the mega-sized ones that people most frequently fail to get through! Downsize the serving size and present on different flatware.
- Make use of recipe software. Keeps your ingredient prices up-to-date the easy way, so you always know how much a dish is costing or making you – day by day.
- Make the most of low-cost ingredients. Add some balance to your menu with low-cost, high-profit (but delicious) crowd-pleasers like BBQ chicken wings and spicy ribs.
- Make seasonal adjustments. People understand when ingredients are out of season or hard to source (they’ve seen avocados go from cheap to cherished!). Either mark these as dishes which may fluctuate in price, or offer that tricky ingredient as an ‘extra’ premium small dish. Avocado smash on the side, anyone?
LASTLY, DOES YOUR MENU ‘DO IT’ FOR YOUR DINERS (AND STAFF)?
- Does every dish sound great? Even the simplest dish should be a step up from a home-made favourite.
- Does your menu cater to all diets? There’s a growing demand for diet-centric dishes. No wheat? No meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products? No problem! And while we’re on the topic, your vegetarian and vegan options should shine with originality, not just tick a box.
- Does your menu make parents happy? We all know it’s not just about what kids want to eat but what their parents (and grandparents) find acceptable. Spend some time developing healthier options to kids’ favourites – think grill or bake, not deep-fry!
- Do your menu descriptions make life easier for your waitstaff? The better the item description, the more quickly your diners can make their choices. Streamlined service!
- Does your menu look well-rounded? Are there enough old favourites combined with exciting new ideas? Is there a good mix of him/her dishes (steaks and fries vs chargrilled chicken salad)? Have you got the right dessert options? Something warm and indulgent, something fruity and fresh, and something that looks a bit more guilt-free (even though it’s probably not!).
- Does your menu include a wide enough range of side dishes? Gone are the days where one side salad option is enough, and the same for bread, flavoured butter and oils. It’s all about choice!
Put your menu to the test and whip it into shape!