Creating Effective Menus / Industry / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

An inviting storefront and interior design can work magic in attracting customers to your restaurant. But once you get them in the ...

An inviting storefront and interior design can work magic in attracting customers to your restaurant. But once you get them in the door, you need a well-conceived game plan to not only make them stay but ensure that they come back again. A carefully-designed menu is a critical component of that plan. An effective menu can: 1. Increase revenues. 2. Entice diners to order your most profitable items. 3. Reinforce your restaurant’s image. 4. Differentiate your restaurant from your competition. Of course, you also have to make sure that your food quality matches what your menu promises. But we’ll leave that part of your homework to the chef!

Hire a menu consultant

Get a leg up on your competition by hiring pros who are savvy about the psychology of menus

Pay attention to design

Your menu’s design speaks volumes about your restaurant’s image and brand identity. With nothing more than a glance, customers should be able to easily determine if your eatery offers casual dining, healthful fare or haute cuisine

Go for to-go menus

With American consumers constantly on the go, it’s no wonder that takeout sales are rising at the nation’s restaurants. In fact, the National Restaurant Association reports that 44 percent of restaurant operators expect takeout sales to represent a larger portion of their sales this year. Tap into this growing segment by making it easy for your customers to order takeout with handy to-go menus.

Use table tents

Highlight your most profitable menu items—such as appetizers, desserts or specialty drinks—or featured entrées with table tents.

Don’t forget the wine list

When customers order Pinot Noir by the glass or a bottle of Bordeaux, it can greatly increase the amount of their check. If you serve wine, take care to arrange your wine list so it’s easy for wine lovers to find their favorites—a common strategy is to create separate sections for whites, reds and champagnes. Depending on the number of wines you serve, you can either include your list within your main menu or create a separate wine menu

Let your menu cover do the talking

Whether your establishment is casual or elegant, your menu cover tells the story. Menu covers do more than that—laminated plastic helps keep your menus from getting stained.
  • Put it on your Web site. According to the National Restaurant Association, 31 percent of consumers have used the Internet to view a restaurant’s menu. That’s up from 12 percent in 2000.
  • Check out your neighboring competition. A typical restaurant relies on 80% of its business from residents living within a ten-minute drive of its location. Visit your competition and find out how your menu differs in pricing, options and overall presentation.
  • Audit your menu annually. IRS-move over! This time you get to be the taskmaster! Make sure your menu stays fresh, current and profitable, by tracking how each menu item is performing. Restaurant gurus suggest that you think of each item as a tenant leasing space. You’ll want each one to be earning its keep!
  • Maximize the Sweet Spot. Place your best-selling or most profitable items centrally on your menu. That’s the spot where your customers are most likely to gaze first.
  • Keep it simple. Use an easy-to-read typeface and font size.

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