The Ultimate Guide To Designing The Perfect Restaurant Menu
The menu can make or break a restaurant. That’s why, no matter how much time you invest in designing the menu, it’s worth it. Unfortunately, most restaurant owners/managers aren't aware of where to start. We will solve this problem for you today.
We will provide you with a simple 12-step guideline to help you create the perfect menu for your restaurant. Before that, it is essential to understand the importance of getting the menu right.
To truly understand how your restaurant menu can serve you well, you must be aware of its impact.
Now that you know the importance of having the right menu, it is time to follow the steps below to create one.
The first step is to list the food items your restaurant offers. In this process, you can use Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, or even the old-school method of pen and paper. However, Google Sheets is better since you can quickly check spelling and cut-copy-paste whenever needed.
Pro Tip: Batch similar items together while listing them down. For example, list all types of pasta, one below the other. This will make it easy to follow the next step.
The next step is to name the different batches according to the type of items. This is where writing similar items one below another will come in handy. Also, rather than using generic names for the categories, add a few adjectives to personalize the categories themselves.
For example, instead of just writing Pizzas, you can name that category Mouthwatering Pizzas.
In each category, extremely popular items with the highest margin should be kept on top. People are most likely to order the top two items in each section.
Prices are one of the most crucial aspects of a menu. If you're merely revising the prices upwards, you can factor in the increase in your costs and accordingly adjust the prices.
Here are a few things to consider while deciding the prices if you're drafting a new menu:
Ask yourself, who is your ideal customer?
It can be a large group, couples, or solo diners. Once you determine your target customer profile, it is easy to understand how much they are willing to spend and will help you decide the pricing strategy.
Pro Tip: If you still need help, check out local competitors' menus online with similar customer profiles.
If you're planning the menu for a fast food restaurant, you should calculate the cost per meal accordingly. You must factor in drinks, entrees, main course, and dessert.
Another aspect is the cost of an average meal for a couple or solo diner at your restaurant. Then, you have to try and find out if the average customer in your area is willing to spend that much on a meal or not.
Considering the competition while determining the pricing is a necessity. However, you need to compare your prices with the right competition.
Note that you cannot compare the pricing strategy of a gourmet restaurant with a fast food restaurant in the vicinity. That is why it’s essential to always compare the pricing with the restaurant offering similar food and dining experience to yours.
Always factor in the fixed cost you have while determining the pricing. The fixed costs include furniture, kitchen appliances, interior design, service, and so on.
Usually, restaurants and cafes break even in three years. You have to divide the fixed costs over the 36 months and then divide the monthly cost with the average number of patrons you expect in a month. That will help you determine the fixed cost for every patron.
You also need to add the variable costs, like the raw material, utilities, and staff. Since these are paid monthly, it is easy to divide them among the number of customers you are expecting each month.
How often do you expect to turn around a table? This number will determine the maximum revenue you can make in an evening or an afternoon.
Now that you know the fixed and variable costs, you can determine the maximum revenue you can make by looking at the turnaround number and price the menu accordingly. This is a time-consuming task, but it is a crucial step.
Not everyone walking through the doors of your restaurant would become a patron. That is why you need to include a single-line description of every dish and mention it below its name in small font.
Be as descriptive as you can by using adjectives to express the menu item's taste, ingredients, fragrance, and appearance.
We all know the menu should be easy for a prospect or customer to read. That is why you need to choose the right color palette.
Instead of experimenting with the color palette, use a site like Coolors.co, which offers pre-created color palettes and allows you to create one on your own.
When selecting the design for the menu, the contents are just one part of the equation. Without the right design, the menu won't stand out, and the customer won't be able to select the right food items to order.
The menu should be designed so that it is easy to read. Customers won't even bother with the menu if it is very complicated.
According to the International Journal of Hospitality Management, most customers read the menu as they would read a book. The scan path is from left to right and top to bottom. The readers pay the most attention to items below the category name.
Once you design your menu per scan paths explained above, it can easily influence the readers to order higher-margin items. Also, it becomes easy for the readers to find the right dish to order.
According to Cornell University, customers spend more when no currency signs are on the menu, as the word "dollars" or the dollar sign reminds people of the pain of paying.
In one of its articles, the New York Times stated that proper use of images could help you highlight the menu items and thereby increase their sales. However, that doesn't mean you can't use photos sparingly. Here are a few guidelines for introducing photos to your menu:
You should only introduce professionally taken photos in your menu. That will help you accentuate the photo and make the reader inclined toward ordering it.
Since you can use images sparingly, it is best to include photos of only the items with the highest margin.
Fresh Cocktails Font - Image by Creative Fabrica
The right font makes it easier for the reader to navigate the menu. Apart from that, you can use it to your advantage in various ways:
Considering these factors, it is crucial to choose the font carefully. Any menu designer will ask you to spend hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars on the font you use in the menu, but we have an easy solution.
Check out these free fonts for commercial use. There’s no need to spend money licensing the fonts. Many are artistic enough to be used in your menu to label the categories.
The menu of your restaurant presents you with plenty of branding opportunities. Here are some of the tips you have to follow:
Once you utilize these branding opportunities, the customers will recall your restaurant better, leading to more business.
CTA stands for Call To Action. Most restaurant owners ignore adding CTAs to their menus, but you can increase your restaurant's profit by adding them to the items with the highest margins.
Whichever software you use for drafting your menus, like Google sheets, Microsoft Excel, Google Docs, or Microsoft Word, it is important to proofread it twice before moving on to the next step.
Even with the best efforts, you're likely to make certain mistakes when drafting the menu. Proofreading will ensure that the mistakes are corrected in the soft copy rather than the hard copy.
Getting a handful of copies is better than ordering menus in bulk. Once done, you must get real-world feedback from test customers or a sample audience. It will help you boost the business.
You can make the menu more engaging for your restaurant's customers by simply acting on these few tips:
Using symbols and icons in your menu can make it easier to read. For example, you can denote the spicy dishes using the chilly symbol. Similarly, you can include a star in front of the chef's special or the most popular dish of your restaurant as well.
Once you include such symbols against the popular and high-margin items, the percentage of customers ordering such dishes will increase, leading to better profits.
Many restaurant owners try to go with the most competitive pricing in the vicinity. However, if you make pricing the unique selling proposition of your restaurant sooner than later, you will lose out.
In the restaurant industry, the costs keep on increasing. If you always attempt to provide the lowest prices, you will eventually fail since you do not have any other unique selling point.
It is best to make the variety of options your selling points, such as taste or the quality of ingredients. In that case, you can maintain these USPs for years, making it easier to convince your customers to become regulars.
As per New York Times, adding an inexpensive decoy theme to the top of the menu or the category gives the impression that other items are reasonably priced. Coupling this technique with not using currency signs will make it easy for customers to order more expensive dishes.
Now that you know the tips to follow, it is essential to understand what mistakes you need to avoid.
A huge mistake in today's digital age is not having a digital menu. Sure enough, most customers might use the physical or the printed menus but not all of them. You can choose from types of digital menus which are:
You can create a QR menu and keep the QR code on every table. That will help the customers view it on their smartphones.
You can create a large digital menu board that you can install outside your restaurant or kitchen. This helps patrons plan their orders in a better fashion.
You can also create an app for your restaurant and offer an in-app menu to your customers. You can integrate it with a QR code, so the app opens up when scanned.
Repeat business is a necessity for a successful restaurant. However, if you always keep the entire menu the same, it will soon become monotonous for patrons. The best way is to follow trends.
For example, recently, organic ingredients have gained popularity among customers. You can also offer variants of your most popular menu items made with organic ingredients. Additionally, you can introduce a healthy section in your menu.
It is essential to keep track of such trends and adaptive items to satisfy the ever-changing taste of your customers.
Even when you follow all the tips to create the menu, your servers have to handle questions about it. Many people might be unable to select the right menu items and ask your servers to recommend the most popular or delicious menu items.
The servers and the staff can only do so when they are well trained and informed about the menu items. That is why you cannot skimp on staff training even when you put a lot of effort into designing the menu.
Many restaurant owners use difficult objectives and complex language to describe a menu item. The problem is that if your patrons can't understand the description or image in the menu after reading it, they won't order the food.
Instead of using complicated language for the menu items, go with the simplest descriptions you can draft.
The restaurant's menu is one of your first opportunities to make an impression in front of a customer who just walked in. That’s why it should be well-maintained.
If the menu has stains or is unkept, it showcases your restaurant in a bad light. And if customers have dropped food on it and you cannot remove the stains, replace that menu altogether.
The three basic menu pricing styles include traditional pricing, cost-plus markup, and product cost percentage pricing. We will go into the details of the three pricing models below:
In this method, you're likely to decide the pricing of menu items depending on your competition; customers perceive the value and your intuition.
Using this pricing model, you'll likely calculate the cost and include a markup. For example, if it costs you $5 to make a menu item, you can decide to have a markup of 50% and price the item at $7.50.
Product cost percentage pricing is the opposite of cost-plus markup. You need to figure out how much should be the cost of the food item as a part of its selling price.
Let's say you decide that the food item cost should be 25% of the selling price. In that case, if you want to sell a menu item for $20, you have to ensure that the item cost is not over $5. If the cost increases, you must adjust the selling price accordingly.
Usually, appetizers or cocktails come first on the menu, followed by soups, salads, entrées, and desserts.
Every section in your menu should contain around 5 to 12 items, so you must break it down into highly specific sections.
For example, instead of just having a section dedicated to fast food, you have to further break it down into pasta, pizzas, burgers, and so on.
The characteristics of a good menu include legibility, a clean layout, proper structure, easy-to-read prices, and proper branding.
While designing a restaurant's menu might seem like a Herculean task to many restaurant owners or managers, the guide above makes it a simple process.
Follow these 12 steps along with the tips and mistakes you need to avoid, and you shouldn't have a problem creating an effective menu for your restaurant. So what are you waiting for? Increase your restaurant’s revenue and satisfy your customers simultaneously!