Did you know your restaurant menu is your silent salesperson? It works in tandem with your servers.
As the silent salesperson and valuable “employee,” it’s often the first experience your customers have with your restaurant.
So, creating a profitable menu for your restaurant should be a top priority.
In this article, we look at optimization tips for your menu because doing so could boost your sales.
Create a Strategy
Your first step when optimizing your restaurant menu is to create a strategy. This involves taking a long, hard look at your menu and then making a list of what you want to accomplish with it.
Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Have I added the right items to my menu?
- Are there any “lemons” I should take off my menu?
- Is it aesthetically pleasing?
- Is it organized well?
- Does it speak to my brand?
- Does it compete with neighboring restaurants?
Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, you should be well prepared to move forward with optimizing your menu.
Optimize the Length
The length of your menu is a fine balancing act. You want it to be just the right length – not too long and not too short.
We’re going to focus on making your sure your menu isn’t too long. If your menu is filled with page after page of options, we’re betting it’s too long.
Perhaps you’re offering too many choices and trying to appeal to too many tastes.
Consider streamlining your menu and shortening it up. Customers who have too many choices often get frustrated flipping through long menus and feel pressure to make a decision.
In the end, this leads to customers unhappy with their meals.
Long menus are also hard on your servers who lose precious time because they’re constantly revisiting tables waiting for people to decide. This hurts your profits, too, because tables turn slower.
You only have 109 seconds to get your menu across to your guests because that’s the amount of time customers spend reading your menu.
This is why it’s important to break your menu up into easily digestible parts.
Another way to tighten up your menu is to review it every season and ditch your underperformers.
A shorter menu also boosts revenue because you are spending less on printing.
Optimize the Structure
The way you lay out your menu matters. So, once you’ve pared down your menu you can decide where everything goes.
Menu items sell better when organized in categories. Consider categories like pasta, meats, appetizers and desserts. Don’t go overboard with categories, or you’ll overwhelm your diners.
Next, you want to pay attention to placement. Your menu has several “hot spots” where you should place your most profitable items and the ones you want people to order.
In menu design, there is something called the Golden Triangle. This triangle is where you want to place items that boost your sales and have the best profit margin.
Most customers look in the middle, then they travel up to the top right corner and then over to the top left corner. These three points make up your Golden Triangle.
Does this mean you put your most expensive items here? No, just add the ones that are most profitable.
In this area, you can include more than one dish, just remember this basic rule to boost your sales:
The top two items followed by the last item in a series are usually the top selling items. People think those items are better and more valuable.
Optimize Your Pricing
Have you given any thought to how you visually price your menu?
If not, this is an easy area for optimization. Here are the tips for the “look” of your pricing:
- Don’t use dollar signs. They remind your visitors that they are shelling out their hard-earned money to eat at your restaurant.
- If you use simple numbers like the number 8, your diners will think they aren’t spending as much as if you wrote $8.
- Don’t end your prices with .99. This denotes a value meal and doesn’t signify food of quality.
- Try ending your prices with .95. For example, 8.95 makes diners think they’re spending less than if you’d priced the item at 9.
Optimize Your Design
When optimizing your menu design, your first consideration is your photography.
Beautiful, professional photographs can certainly boost your sales, especially when coupled with the Golden Triangle.
When considering your menu colors, use colors that appeal to your customer’s appetite and sense of well-being.
- Use green to make your diners think everything is healthy, fresh and flavorful.
- Throw in some orange because it’s fun and stimulates the appetite.
- When you use yellow, you make people happy while also stimulating the appetite.
- Use red to highlight menu items and grab your menu reader’s attention. Want to sell a particular dish? Highlight it in red.
Now that you’ve got some of our favorite optimization tips for your menu, you are well on your way to boosting your sales.
We’ll leave you with one final thought. A Korean research study tells us that one third of your diners are most likely to order the very first item they see on your menu.
Even though they’ll look around for a bit, they’ll compare everything else to this first item.
If you have a signature dish with a high profit margin, be sure it lands in the Golden Triangle or in the upper right hand corner for the biggest boost in sales.
Do you have any tips for optimizing a restaurant menu? We’d love to hear them. Please comment below to share your thoughts with others.