The fastest and surest way to improve sales, margins, the guest experience, and brand relevance is through effective menu strategy. A good restaurant menu design is key to any restaurant’s marketing plan. The menu should express your eatery’s personality, focuses your overall operations, promotes profitability, establishes your budget, and keeps your brand fresh in your customer’s mind.
Menus are one of the most complex aspects of one of the most complex businesses in the world. Those who’ve made it past a slump have often done so by launching a new menu that revisits their brand’s DNA and purpose, in a way that honors the past, but ensures it continues to be relevant today and in the future.
From where the prices appear to the color of the text, the way the menu is designed has a powerful impact on what guests order. Leveraging the psychology of menu design can increase sales without having to change a single menu item.
The menu is the single most important piece of marketing collateral for any restaurant. A well-designed menu can consistently increase profits for any restaurant (whether an independent or national chain) by as much as $1,000 per month, per million dollars in annual revenue. Re-engineering and designing menus is vital to this process.
We help with quantitative analysis led by data scientists; incorporate findings into new product, pricing, presentation, and positioning recommendations. Working with your designers, we provide menu engineering insights (placement, descriptions, menu psychology, behavioral economics, industrial engineering principles, etc.) to showcase and improve menu merchandising, resulting in an immediate impact on same-store sales growth and meaningful margin improvements. After the menu engineering analysis takes place, these are some of the specific restaurant menu design ideas to consider:
Many considerations go into the design of a menu. Together with menu engineering, we listed some of the key aspects of designing a menu that will determine how successful the menu is: from a color scheme, photography, language, highlighted items, fonts, logos, icons, imagery and hierarchy, all should be in line with the brand personality and functioning to promote high ticket and high margin items.
It’s not an exact science, but there are some rules of thumb and planning considerations. One rule of thumb for printed menus which are reused (i.e. in vinyl slip covers, hard bound menu covers, etc) is to produce 1.5 times the number of seats you have (this is cutting it close and conservative). In addition to what you need for just normal operations, consider also printing extras over the 1.5x seat count allotment for replacing bad menus (defects, wear/tear, etc), stolen or missing menus (maybe you did something so nice it grows legs and becomes a souvenir), and then also consider providing full menus and brochures or any company material to stand out to local businesses, food writers/media, and local concierges.
In addition to those uses, also consider a less expensive version that is intended to be taken away such as putting in the bag with all to-go orders, in takeout bags, deliveries, and at local events, you may participate in. It is often much more economical to print/pro- duce too many than to have to go back for a second-run printing or order replacements at a higher price per unit.
The objective of pricing, according to Menu Marketing and Management, “…serves the purpose of determining margin profitability, brand positioning, setting pricing objectives and achieving the intended gross profit margin.” You may also use your pricing to aid you in “discerning between a competitive strategy from a premium restaurant pricing strategy.”
There are four ways in which to consider how you are going to price your product:
Another aspect which must be taken into consideration when determining pricing is employee meals. According to Menu Marketing and Management, there are three ways in which you may factor in the meals you provide to your staff:
Lastly, when pricing your menu items the profits and your competition’s pricing are not the only factors you need to consider. Global events such as a volcano erupting in Guatemala may affect the price of the pineapples you serve on your “Hawaiian” pizza.
When calculating pricing always keep in mind that your customers expect “more bang for their buck” and, if they do not receive such from your restaurant they WILL go to your competition
It’s pretty common for eateries to make mistakes in the design of the menu when there are not experts involved. One of the most costly mistakes is the haphazard placement of profitable items that results from ineffective menu engineering (or not performing any menu engineering at all). Under-training staff to sell the menu, failing to properly analyze item sales, and missing mobile compatibility to promote the menu are also costly mistakes. We’ve written more on menu design mistakes here.
One of the surest and quickest means to improving performance for a restaurant chain is through effective menu engineering strategies. It’s about more than tactical design, merchandizing techniques, promotional tactics and pricing strategies though. When done correctly, a holistic improvement is possible that also delivers benefits in terms of operational efficiency, brand and competitive differentiation, media interest that garners positive publicity, guest appeal that stimulates new trial and frequency, sustainable lifts to sales and profitability, and even reinvigorated morale and employee engagement at the unit level. We can help.
Aaron Allen & Associates works alongside senior executives of the world’s leading foodservice and hospitality companies to help them solve their most complex challenges and achieve their most ambitious aims, specializing in brand strategy, turnarounds, commercial due diligence and value enhancement for leading hospitality companies and private equity firms.
Our clients span six continents and 100+ countries, collectively posting more than $200b in revenue. Across 2,000+ engagements, we’ve worked in nearly every geography, category, cuisine, segment, operating model, ownership type, and phase of the business life cycle.