Choose your most popular dishes to live at the top of your menu.
With rising food costs from inflation and your need to stay on top of your revenue, it’s never been more important to fine-tune all of your costs. One of the best ways to control costs and boost revenue is by using a bit of menu engineering.
In this article, we look at nine tips to maximize profits from your restaurant’s menu. You’ll find you have many opportunities for cost savings and profit gains by paying special attention to each item on your menu.
Tip #1: Assess Your Menu
Your first step is to analyze your menu and look at the strengths and weaknesses of each item. You want to consider these things:
The cost to make the dish.
The popularity of the dish (how many times it gets ordered)
The total food cost of each item
What your profits are from each item – for example, is it expensive to make with low returns or high returns?
Identify items you can remove.
Look for opportunities for cost savings without sacrificing quality.
Identify ways to highlight high-profit items that don’t sell as well to increase their sales.
Check out your competitor’s menus for cost comparisons.
Once you’ve done these things, you can move on to the tactics for maximizing your profits.
Tip #2: Limit Menu Choices
Another way you can maximize profits is by limiting the choices on your menu to your profitable items. (tweet this)
For example, you can take everything off your menu that doesn’t sell well. Then, you can remove all the items that cost too much to make with a low-profit margin.
What you should be left with, then, are your high-profit margin and most popular items.
In addition, you can simply limit menu choices. If you have a menu with 50 items on it, reduce it to 25. This “forces” people into the items you want them to order because they are profitable.
Tip #3: Charge for Add-Ons
Many restaurants forgo charging for add-ons, and this really eats into their profits.
For example, for every order of fries that asks for a side of ranch, you want to charge for it. Don’t give away anything, and you won’t lose out on revenue.
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Tip #4: Keep Your Stars
We touched on this a bit already, but you want to keep your star items. These are your cream of the crop menu items that:
Are inexpensive to make.
Are popular to most of your customers
Have high profit margins.
For the items on your menu that are your stars, consider redesigning your menu so you can highlight them. By highlighting them, you drag customers to them, and they’ll order them more often.
You can do this by putting them at the top of your menu panel, giving them the most creative names and descriptions, or setting them apart from others with a colored background or box.
You definitely want to promote your high-dollar, low-cost, popular items to encourage more orders.
Tip #5: Pay Attention to the Plowhorses
The plowhorses on your menu are popular items, but they don’t have a high-profit margin. So, you want to be careful with those items because you don’t want to lose customers by getting rid of them.
The best thing you can do with these dishes is to really break apart your ingredient list. Look for ways to find cheaper ingredients and even less expensive suppliers.
Your goal is to make the most of these popular dishes that are dragging your costs down.
Tip #6: Take a Look at Your Puzzles
These are just what you think they are – the items on your menu that are delicious and cost-effective to make, but no one orders them.
So, for these puzzles, you want to spend some time thinking about why these dishes don’t appeal to people. For example, are they buried at the bottom of your menu? Are your pictures unappealing? Does the dish have a name or description that doesn’t appeal to customers?
To really maximize your profits on these dishes, consider offering a special on them. Or you can promote them in your nightly specials.
Another tip is to promote your puzzles on social media to try and get some buzz going.
Tip #7: Ditch the Dogs
These are the items that no one orders and are expensive to make. There’s not much else to say here except to get rid of them.
Tip #8: Work on Your Headlines and Descriptions
For some of your menu items, diners just move right on by. Why?
It may be the way you describe your items. Here are a few tips:
Highlight the taste in your description.
The headline can speak to an ingredient, how unique the item is, or something meaningful about the dish.
Your goal is to make your customer’s mouth water in anticipation. Make the item sound as tasty as you can.
Hire a creative person to create your headlines and descriptions for you. Just make sure they taste your food first.
Make sure your words align with your brand image.
Tip #9: Take Professional Photos
Your menu is no place for amateur photos. Hire a professional photographer to take your photos.
This is so important because these folks are experts in composition and lighting. A dark food photo is less than appetizing. Your photos need to capture each customer.
Final Tips to Maximize Profits from Your Menu
You really want to pay attention to every detail on your menu in order to manage food costs.
Engineer your menu in a way that works for both you and your customers. Keep the items they love and get rid of the dead weight. (tweet this)
With clear and beautiful photos, expert descriptions and headlines, and the right items on your menu, you will have engineered your way to success.
By moving through these tips, you will find you are well on your way to increasing your profits.
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