You look at your menu over and over until you feel like your stare could burn a hole in it. Hey, it looks good. Maybe even great. You decide it’s ready to be rolled out and you decide to launch. Sales jump and you get excited. Then....they seem to level off. What happened?
A fresh menu design is like buying a new car. At first, it’s the greatest thing in the world to you. After a few months, a lot of that newness has worn off. Your menu can be a similar roller coaster of emotions. Time to get your menu mojo back!
First Things First
You must know the cost of every item on your menu (that means both food and beverages—no shortcuts here). Not knowing your costs is really not knowing your business. I asked a recent audience (about 150 people) that I was speaking for what I thought was a straightforward question: “How many people in the room know the cost of the items on your menu?” I was shocked to see only 10 hands in the room rise. [Insert shaking head...
Menu items that are very similar fight or cannibalize each other for sales. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the first thing he did was ask his team one simple question, "What products would you recommend to a friend?" When he did not get a very clear answer he reduced the number of Apple products from 350 to just 10!
Think about your menu. What items are your "hits"? Those dishes that your team just knocks out of the ball every time? That is what your menu should consist of! Too many items leads to what psychologists call "the paradox of choice" is when too many choices leads to anxiety about our choices. So when your menu has too many items, guests get frustrated and tend to go for the "safe" choice. The bad news is that your safe choice might not be a big profit maker.
Sometimes what you do NOT put on your menu is more important then what you do.
Here are some key questions to ask about your menu:
I don't like spam either so let's make sure you're a human being. Plus, I am throwing in a copy of my Manifesto for Outstanding Restaurants!