How the Design of Your Menu Persuades Customers to Order More

How the Design of Your Menu Persuades Customers to Order More

Menu engineering encourages diners to order more of your best items.

Are you looking for brain tricks to make people spend more at your restaurant? Is such a thing even possible?

You can use subtle techniques to encourage spending. In this article, we look at how the design of your menu persuades customers to order more.

Utilize the Golden Triangle

Most people read a restaurant menu in much the same way.

Their eyes usually move to the middle of the menu, then they work their way up to the top right corner and then settle in the top left corner.

Professional menu engineers call these three areas the Golden Triangle, and they say this is where you should put the menu items you want people to order and those with the highest profit margins.

Use Color

Your menu design can encourage diners to order more, especially when you pay attention to colors.

Did you know that color can affect what people order? Consider these tips when it comes to the color of your menu:

  • The color green signifies freshness.
  • Orange stimulates a customer’s appetite.
  • Yellow signifies happiness, and you can use it to grab menu readers’ attention.
  • Use a bit of red, and this encourages diners to take the plunge. Add red to your menu items with the highest profit margins to make customers order these dishes.

Manage the Money

Another way to persuade customers to order more is by the visual nature of your menu pricing.

The prices of dishes can be a stumbling block for many diners.

Be clever and don’t use any dollar signs on your menu. This takes away the impact of your prices. When people see dollar signs, they think they’re spending more.

Also, don’t end your menu prices with .99. This has the connotation of something cheap. If you must use decimals, you can end your pricing in .95. That speaks better to customers and is friendlier.

The best alternative is to round your prices.

If you really want people to order more, spell out the amount. For example, say ten dollars instead of 10.

Install a Decoy

You can encourage customers to order more by employing the decoy.

Put your most expensive dishes in a prominent position because this makes all of your other dishes appear like a great deal. (tweet this)

This encourages customers to order more. They might order two things that add up to the cost of your highest dollar item, but they’ll feel like they’re getting more for their money because they get two menu items instead of one.

It also makes customers think everything else on your menu is a bargain, so they’ll spend more.

Get Out Your Creativity

Use your menu descriptions to entice customers. You want to take time to craft the perfect descriptions of each item.

Get out your Thesaurus and find intriguing adjectives to add to your menu. Consider terms like “fresh-caught,” “just picked,” “farmer-grown” or “sun-dried.”

The more you can make each item appear unique and special, the better chance you have that they’ll order more.

It’s your job to make diners think they’re getting something truly special.

Another trick is to use nostalgia. For example, “great-grandfather’s pizza recipe brought over from the old country” sounds better than “Italy’s best pizza.”

Diners can’t resist something that pulls them back to the past. You might remind them of their own favorite dish from the past, encouraging them to order that last slice of “Auntie Jayne’s Boston Crème Pie.”

You can also create a story for each of your menu descriptions. Draw diners in with a great story. You can also include longer descriptions on items you want to sell more of – the ones with higher profit margins.

Menu Persuades Customers to Order More

Don’t overcrowd your menu. Keep it clean to entice diners.

Employ White Space

Nothing boggles diners mind more than a crowded menu without any breathing room. It creates anxiety and causes the diner to “just pick an item” to avoid having to look too hard.

Use white space to set dishes apart. You can employ this space especially around the items you want patrons to order. (tweet this)

Highlight the Top Two

Many people subconsciously order the top two menu items in each section.

Consider adding your dishes with the highest profit margin in the top positions.

On the flip side, you can also position another of your high profit margin items in the last position, as this one is also intriguing to diners.

Direct Readers to the Right Items

Knowing which items to highlight is also important when persuading customers to order more.

Here are the categories to look at:

  • The stars are your high profit, high sales items.
  • Your puzzles are the high profit, low sales items.
  • Plow horses are the ones you can count on for high sales, but they turn a low profit.
  • The dogs are your low profit, low sales dishes.

Generally, you want to show off your stars and improve your puzzles.

You also want to keep your plow horses. When it comes to dogs, you might just drop them.

When you know where each of your menu items fall, you can work to improve your menu so customers order more.

Case Study: IHOP

Now let’s look at how IHOP managed to encourage their customers to order more.

This restaurant giant decided to overhaul their menu after customers complained their menu had too many choices and too much text.

According to Bloomberg, once they revamped their menu, they saw a 3.6% increase in store sales.

Using visual clues, a more user-friendly layout, color-coded categories and energetic, beautiful photos, they made it very easy for diners to see their options and decide what they wanted to eat.

This in turn encouraged them to order more because IHOP made it easier to do so.

Final Thoughts

Pay attention to these tips on how the design of your menu persuades customers to order more.

Ask yourself if your current menu is frustrating diners. Is there so much on your menu that hungry patrons can’t possibly make a decision?

Do they spend so much time trying to decide between meal options and side dishes that your table turnover rate is terrible?

It can be incredibly difficult for diners to decide what to eat. But, you can make it easier for them while encouraging them to order more by finessing your restaurant menu.

Don’t overcrowd your menu so much that you overwhelm diners and to ease their frustration they simply choose the cheapest meal.

You don’t want to overburden them with too much choice or a menu that confuses the mind.

Be true to your restaurant concept while considering your customer’s needs, and you’ll soon be on your way to the perfect menu to encourage customers to order more.

At Restaurant Engine, we create great, responsive websites that include online menus to start your customers’ journey to your website. Ready to take the plunge and create a website with an online menu, blog and beautiful photos? Get your free website consultation today!

Images: Natalie Ostashova and Brigitte Tohm

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