As a restaurateur you must have asked yourself more than once, what am I doing wrong? What needs to be updated in the restaurant to make sure the sales keep getting higher? While a number of answers may come to your mind ranging from seating, interiors, food and service, one of the most important elements of a restaurant is often ignored- the Restaurant Menu. Here are some of the most common mistakes that restaurateurs make while designing the menu. Read them to ensure that you don’t commit any of those blunders!
A restaurant menu has a huge impact on the customer psychology and can single-handedly improve your restaurant’s overall performance.
When Should You Change Your Restaurant Menu Design
Your restaurant reports even if not just focused on your menu design can disclose a lot regarding it. If people are ordering the most basic dishes in every section, it means that they are defaulting to these dishes which is only possible if menu design is not properly planned. If one specific item works well but others are not doing well even after being tasty it is probably because customers cannot locate it on the menu or is being shadowed by some other item.
The most effective way to phish out the problem area is analysing your POS Reports, giving reason to every abnormality and if something comes back to your menu design too often then finding the problem area and fixing specifically that.
Here are 7 signs according to which you need to redesign your restaurant menu.
1. Gradual Dip in Sales
You may have been a hit when you started but if your sales have seen a decline beyond your computed value for no explainable physical reason, it may be because of your menu design. If your restaurant menu does not guide people to the correct items that they must order, their experience will be compromised and by and by your customer base would either fade away or default to the most basic items that do not lead to enough sales.
2. Low Profits
Even if the sales are pretty high at your restaurant, and you are still not making a decent profit, it is time to review your reports. This time, however, look at the sales reports of the high-profit items. Chances are, the menu items that have a high-profit margin are not being sold enough. It means that the menu design has not been well thought of in terms of placing the items. Neither the soft-spots in your menu nor your decoys or highlights have been effectively used. All this makes visual aid through pictures or graphics (if present in a menu) redundant.
This is a tell-tale sign that you should repurpose your restaurant menu design. It is especially true when your restaurant is always full but still fails to generate enough revenue.
3. Unpopularity of Some Items
Contrary to the point mentioned above a sign that you need to change your menu design is also linked to the popularity of some specific items. While you may think there is no harm in having certain items in the menu that are not sold enough, over time it can potentially damage the business. For one, if certain menu items are not ordered, their ingredients may expire and you’d have to re-stock the ingredients only to have them wasted again. Also, you’d be losing out on the sale that a different menu item could be bringing in. You should always be on the lookout for new food trends and introduce innovations in your menu to attract customers.
If some items of your menu are unpopular to the limit that they are not ordered at all, you need to do some serious thinking about the way you have engineered your menu.
4. Poor Customer Feedback
Even if you have scrutinised your reports carefully, you still may not reach the conclusion why certain menu items are not selling enough. To gain this understanding, you should take your customers’ feedback. The best way to do this is through a digital feedback form that asks specific questions about the dishes that have been ordered by the customer. For instance, someone who ordered a pizza is prompted to review the pizza. The digitised feedback form documents the response, and over a period of time, if you get consistent poor ratings of the particular item, you can either look into the preparation method or consider taking it off the menu completely.
Find out how to collect customer feedback the right way here.
5. Lack of Customer Initiative
If you are confident regarding your dish placing on the menu and even regarding the price, the indicator you can look for is customer initiative. A lack of customer initiative in ordering or trying new dishes off your menu means that the menu design is not sparking the correct emotions, the colours are off, or the menu design is not matching the motif of the restaurant. Imagine a fine dining scenario where restaurant majorly earns through lingering customers. Now, what would happen if that restaurant designed its menu like McDonald’s? The emotion instigated by the menu would not match the theme and vibe of the restaurant and the customers would not order accordingly. If the colours on our menu are too straining for the eyes, the customers will not break out of their comfort zone. Ultimately customer initiative is the key to a successful restaurant and if your customers lack initiative you need to re-do your menu.
6. Wait-Staff Having to Play Interpreter
Your wait staff is what holds your restaurant’s performance together. If they are not as efficient because they have been spending more time at customer tables solving their orders, they are basically doing the menu’s job and this situation is nothing less than a time bomb waiting to explode. If your customers cannot decide what to order from the menu itself it means that the menu is not explanatory enough. It could be due to the fact that your menu lacks basic food descriptions, it is carelessly set and is chaotic and crumpled in the very least. A vast and complicated menu can also be a turnoff for customers making them choose the least priced items, or constantly asking the wait staff for recommendations.
7. High Food Costs
If your food costs are alarmingly high then it is time that you consider changing your restaurant menu. It is not just the high input cost that leads to escalating food costs. If a lot of food wastage is happening at your restaurant then you should cut down or replace certain items in your menu. It is always better to have menu items that have common ingredients that can be sourced locally and easily. Also, if the food cost is still high and the item is not selling that much, it is better to either change the placement of the item in the menu or remove it completely.
The purpose of a menu is to make sure that your customers can decide what they want and guiding them to the best dishes that you have got. If your menu is failing at this, these are the sure signs that you will most likely see. Our suggestion is, if 5 out of these 7 signs are a regular feature in your restaurant, it is time that you up your menu game!
Find out how you can create a stellar menu design that maximises your profit here.