Once you have decided on the theme of the restaurant and who will be your targeted clientele, your main focus should be on creating an enticing menu that will leave an indelible mark on your customers. Restaurant menu engineering is both a science and an art that demands a delicate balance between putting the right items on the menu with the right price points and being attractive enough to tempt customers to order more. Both, the positioning of the items in the menu as well as the price of the items are essential aspects of restaurant menu engineering.
Restaurant Menu Engineering typically encompasses four aspects:
- Psychology – You should always take into consideration how customers perceive your restaurant menu. What emotion does the menu arouse in them? Is the menu attractive enough to catch the attention of the customers and propel them to order the high-profit items? You must evaluate all of these while engineering your restaurant menu.
- Managerial accounting – The primary goal of restaurant menu engineering is to encourage customers to purchase the high-profit items. The pricing of menu items directly impacts the restaurant’s profit and must be done with care.
- Marketing and strategy – The restaurant menu has the potential to sell and upsell items even without the server doing much. How you present and utilize the menu to market your dishes is an essential aspect of restaurant menu engineering.
- Graphic design – The design of your restaurant menu, the layout, and the look and play an important role in leaving an impact on your customers’ minds.
Restaurant Menu Engineering Tips
Here are some stellar restaurant menu engineering tips that you must remember while designing your restaurant menu.
1. Don’t Neglect The Perennial Favorites
While it is not wrong to want your restaurant menu to be exciting and trendy, you must keep the traditional and perennial favorites during the restaurant menu engineering process. It is always recommended to have a few tried and tested popular, yet high-profit items on the menu to ensure a steady flow of orders. For example, think of a burger and fries, it can just be coupled and dressed as anything, be it as a Peri Peri burger with pepper jack cheese, or served plain. Either way, it has a long staying power in your menu.
2. Try And Keep Restaurant Menu Which Has a Low Food Cost
Keeping your Food Costs low should be high on your priority list during the menu engineering process. Now, food cost is the actual amount of money it costs to make the items on your restaurant menu. Costly ingredients will result in an expensive menu. For example, if you have Truffles, Salmons or Caviar on your menu, this will automatically make your menu pricy. This, however, does not mean the food you offer should be the cheapest since maintaining a standard quality is essential as well. What you need to do is to balance high and low food costs to garner a reasonable amount of profit margin.
3. Price Restaurant Menu Items Light
Dotted lines leading from the menu item to its price is a cardinal sin of menu design. This was mainly brought into force to make the restaurant menu look appropriately formatted. However, it leads to the customers focusing more on the price of the dish rather than the item itself.
It is better to have the name of the item followed by a tempting menu description, and either beside or beneath the description the price of the dish. This way, you are essentially drawing the customers’ attention to the name and description of the dish; with a lesser focus on the price.
4. Remember Who You Are Planning To Target
During the restaurant menu engineering process, you must keep in mind your targeted audience. This will help you to create a restaurant menu as per the preferences of the customers and price it accordingly. For example, if you’re opening a fine dining restaurant, you must understand that your targeted audience will be the ones who will be willing to indulge in luxuries. Hence, you can offer exquisite menu items like Sushi, Salmon and price it a little high, since your customers will be able to afford it. However, keeping the same menu and price for casual dining in a university or college area where your targeted audience will be students, is the biggest blunder you can do. Hence, know who you are targeting, do market research to know about their like, preferences and their pocket capacity and then go about creating your restaurant menu.
5. Keep Items In Your Restaurant Menu Which Are Easy To Prepare
If you are keeping complicated items in your restaurant menu, it can have the ability to slow down your kitchen staff’s productivity during high rush hours. For example, during the lunch or dinner rush, if you have a dish that needs approximately 45 minutes to be prepared and serves, it can not only bog down your kitchen staff but also slow down the entire kitchen operations. Hence, try and keep dishes which are easy to prepare and can be served exquisitely, in the simplest way possible.
6. Try And Keep Items Prepared With The Same Ingredients
If you keep items in your restaurant menu with the same ingredients, it will reduce the scope of spoilage of ingredients in your kitchen. Taking steps that will reduce your kitchen waste is very important since neglecting it can increase the overall restaurant cost. Hence, while forecasting your menu, use ingredients used in multiple dishes. For example, if you are selling lettuce or spinach, try and offer a main course, a salad and an appetizer that include the same ingredients.
7. Limiting the Restaurant Menu Can Be A Great Option
Giving your customers too many options in your restaurant menu can have a negative psychological impact on them. Too many options might confuse them, and this might compel them to go for the dish that they usually order. Hence, seven is considered to be the golden number, so try providing at least seven dishes under all the categories like- appetizer, main course and the like.
Menu engineering can be a difficult concept to grasp. You need to understand the psychology of the customers, indulge in proper market research, and even then you might not be able to create a stellar restaurant menu. Thus, keep renovating your menu every so often. Based on the customer demand and item profitability, you can add or delete items from the menu. Follow these menu design tips to maximize orders at your restaurant.
Diligently abide by the 7 points mentioned above while creating your restaurant menu and be assured to see the overwhelming response from your customers. Additionally, read this detailed menu engineering e-book that would help you create a great restaurant menu!