How To Create A Manageable Menu

How To Create A Manageable Menu

Your menu drives your restaurant profits.

Your restaurant menu is the centerpiece of your restaurant. Because of this, you want to make sure it’s as optimized as possible.

In this article, we look at how to create a manageable menu so you can entice your customers and improve your profits.

Know Your Customers

Your customers come first when creating a manageable menu.

While you most likely have an idea of the type of food you want to serve at your restaurant, and you may even have a specialty, the first thing you want to consider is what your target customer would like.

For example, if your restaurant is located in a business district, and your target customers are young, office professionals, a family concept probably won’t reach your ideal demographic.

You want to consider the food your customers want as well as what they can afford.

It’s not necessarily about the type of food you want to serve, but the menu that sells.

Give your customers the menu they want, and you’re well on the road to success. Why?

It’s because your menu has to appeal to your diners.

The best way to find out what your customers want so your menu is manageable is to do some research in your area. Shop around, talk to people and send out surveys. Check on the demographics.

Once you have a handle on what your customers want, you can create a menu around their desires. Pick a few signature dishes that not only meet the customer’s needs, but are menu items you feel confident making.

Know Your Limits

You’ve done your research, and you’ve compiled a list of the dishes you want to serve.

Now go back and take a long look at it. Ask yourself if you have the space, equipment and staff to prepare all of the menu items on your list.

Make sure you are realistic about your limitations.

Don’t overburden yourself with menu items you don’t have the time, staff or expertise to create. (tweet this) You also want to make sure you have the proper amount of storage to store all of the ingredients in your menu items.

If you miss this step in your menu planning, you might end up with a menu full of items that can’t be cooked on the same stove at the same time.

End result? Tables full of angry diners waiting and waiting for their food.

A manageable menu means your diners are happy, food is served in a timely fashion, and your tables are turning regularly so you can serve more people.

Know Your Skills

When planning your menu, you also want to know what types of food you are best at creating and how skilled you are at passing that knowledge on to others. (tweet this)

For example, while you make the best lasagna in town, are you capable of teaching your staff how to produce it at the same level?

First, you want to cook the items you know how to cook well. If you aren’t an expert at the items your customers want, then do what you can to learn.

Consider your staff as well. Hire the right people to cook the right dishes. If you don’t, your menu quickly becomes unmanageable, and it will show to your customers.

Know Your Profit Margin

Another trait of a manageable menu is one that makes you money. If you aren’t profiting from your menu, it’s time to redesign it.

As you create your menu, look at how much each item costs to make. Then, ask yourself if you can charge enough for the item to make it worthwhile.

If a menu item doesn’t have a good profit margin, it might not be worth including on your menu.

In addition, visit your competition. Do your research and know the right pricing structure to stay competitive in the marketplace.

Think about your budget – rent, utilities, insurance, payroll, maintenance, taxes and more. Make sure your menu can accommodate all of these costs as well.

Manageable Menu

Design your menu with planning and creativity.

Make a Restaurant Plan

Now that you’ve studied your customers, your limits, your skills and your profit margin, it’s time to start creating a manageable menu.

Take a look at this list to jump start your menu planning.

  1. Make a list of all your proposed menu items. Start with the items you know your customers will like and what you cook best.
  2. Then, take your list and start sorting it by category. Your goal here is to create a commonsense order to your menu. Separate items into appetizers, entrees, desserts, pastas, meats, etc. Make the categories meet your menu items. Decide which items you want to highlight (this would be your highest profit margin items). Edit and edit your menu again.
  3. Start writing your descriptions. You might seek the help of a copywriter if you’re not quite up to the task. Think mouthwatering descriptions that entice and compel your customers. You want a description that drives business.
  4. Plan your pricing. Be strategic with your pricing and make sure it meets your needs. Then, you can start adding pricing to your menu.
  5. Start designing your menu. If you don’t have these capabilities, hire a graphic designer to put your menu together. Decide on a color scheme, photos and graphics. Keep your menu short enough that patrons can digest it easily. Keep the golden triangle in mind – eyes move first to the middle of the page, top right and then top left. So, put your highest-margin dishes at the center and upper right corner of your menu.

Final Thoughts

Creating a manageable menu is vital to your restaurant’s success. The menu is what drives business to your restaurant.

The best way to design your menu is to think of it as the primary marketing piece of your restaurant.

Customers visit your restaurant for your food. The design of your menu encourages diners to order. They tell their friends about your food. Potential diners visit your website to see your menu.

Your restaurant menu is pivotal to your success, so make sure you give it plenty of time and thought so your restaurant can really shine.

Do you have a great website with an online menu for ordering? Is it user-friendly and enticing to your website visitors? If not, or you’d like a website tune-up and refresh, contact us for your free website consultation. We’ll make sure your website works for your site visitors and is the centerpiece of your marketing.

Images: Herson Rodriguez and Linh Nguyen

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