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Top Ten Tips to Maximize Your Restaurant Menu

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

Your menu is your number one selling tool for influencing what you want your guest to order. With proper menu design you can actually influence sales mix on a daily basis and improve profits. Don’t just leave it up to chance. Learn these tips and apply them to your menu.

1 Never Handcuff your Menu  If you are unable to change or update any menu panel in a short amount of time, then you are handcuffed. You need to be sure you can make a change or update anytime to your menu as needed. With the rapidly changing markets today, this flexibility is very important to staying ahead of rising costs

2 Review your menu and update 3-4 times per year  Stick to small adjustments throughout the year instead of trying to do big adjustments once a year. This is also a great opportunity to creep your menu prices throughout the year with small incremental increases.</p>

3 Keep your menu small  Studies have suggested that you only need 20-24 selections to have an adequate menu size for your guest. In fact, you will find that 8-12 of those dishes will be doing the bulk of your sales and profits. Secondly, smaller menus equal less inventory and waste which means better profits for the business.

4 Treat your menu like real estate  Be aware of the prime spots on your menu where the readers eyes will tend to fall most often. Those prime spots are like owning prime real estate. Make sure the items that are most profitable for the business occupy those prime real estate spots first. Do not let your weaker menu items occupy your prime real estate locations

5 Keep the eye on profit dollars per dish and not food cost percentage  You do not take percentage to the bank, but you do take profit dollars home every night. If you have 100 guests coming through the restaurant tonight…do you want to make $10 profit per dish or $7 profit per dish. This is the difference from a $1000 night or a $700 night.

6 Stagger your menu prices  A common menu occurrence is to line up the menu prices into a vertical column. What this does is make it very easy to price shop the menu. A simple fix to this is to let your menu prices naturally stagger throughout the menu at the end of the titles or line ingredients.</p>

7 First and Last Position  When you list a column of menu choices on your menu, the top and bottom positions within the column are generally stronger positions. This ties into the idea that we scan menus more often than truly reading menus. Readers tend to scan around the edges which explains why we tend to notice top and bottom positions more often than the middle of a column of menu choices.</p>

8 Menu Descriptors Help Sell the Flavor and Value  People make choices of what to order by how well you can explain the food to them. Studies have shown that consumers opinion of a menu item increases in value with strong menu descriptors.</p>

9 Highlight What You Want to Sell  Make sure your menu has highlights that draw the eye to your key menu items you want them to notice and hopefully pick first from the menu.</p>

10 Give Them Permission to Reject a Menu Choice  It is always recommended to have a range of prices on your menu and not keep all your retail price points bunched up into a tight range. In fact, I want to encourage you to put a high priced dish on the menu just so that your guest can reject it. This is called mental anchoring the menu. When your guest sees a menu choice that is outrageous in price they base the value of the other menu choices from that high price point. In other words, your other menu choices start to look economical when compared to your anchor point. This in turn leads to a higher selling average from your other available menu selections.</p>

Your Secret Restaurant Coach currently works in the food service industry providing struggling restaurant owners with positive coaching and restaurant consulting services. If you are looking for further FREE RESTAURANT RESOURCES, just go to []

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