Are You Getting The Most Out of Your Menu Design?

Have your profits seen a downturn recently?

…Ever think it might be your menu?

When it comes to what to eat, the menu plays the starring role in helping a customer make a decision. Whether it’s the power of suggestion or merely great marketing, having an excellently designed menu can help customers choose the right dish. Industry professionals refer to this technique as Menu Engineering, and we’re here to show you have you can borrow some of these little secrets to make sure you’re getting the most of your menu.


It Should Be Love at First Sight

You’ll never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

When you’re applying for a job, you want to make sure your resume grabs you potential employers attention within the first few seconds of them scanning it. The same rules apply when it comes to menu design. Rarely does a diner read an entire menu from front to back, with most customers allowing themselves only a quick scan before settling on the dish they want. For this reason, be sure to make the menu easy to browse by utilize helpful section headers and a readable font type.


Utilizing The “Sweet Spots”

Studies have shown that customers tend to focus on the first and the last items of a menu when presented in list form. There’s also the upper, right-hand corner of the menu, which is often referred to as the “industry sweet spot”. Indecisive diners tend to pick the dishes their eyes see first. Featuring certain items with images or larger font may make them stand out. Make great use of those tactics and locations on your menu and list the dishes you’d most like to serve there. Chances are, they will be your next big hits.


K.I.S.S Overly Broad Menus Goodbye

You wouldn’t go to a Japanese-style restaurant looking for macaroni and cheese, just like you shouldn’t go to a shoe store looking to buy a car. Along the same lines, patrons don’t like being overwhelmed with too many options either. Stick with the acronym K.I.S.S. (or Keep It Simple, Silly!) If a customer is looking for Italian food, offer excellently prepared Italian dishes. Know what the chef excels at, and highlight those on the menu. Not only will narrowing a menu keep down excess costs in the kitchen, but it makes prep time less of a hassle as well.


Keep Costs Reasonable

No matter how good the lobster bisque is, no one wants to pay $35 for a tiny cup of it. Make sure prices are in line with what customers are willing to spend, or “the price barrier“– an imaginary line over which customers will not pay. Specializing in a certain type of cuisine or a signature dish can warrant slightly higher prices as can catering to a higher end clientele. However, most middle-income diners won’t pay more that about $20 for an entree so that’s something to keep in mind when pricing menu items.


Get Rid of That Dollar Sign

It wasn’t too long ago where you could open up any menu and see the list of dishes in a straight row down the left, followed by a line of dots to the prices listed in a row down the right. Thanks to the invention of modern typesetting, menus have benefitted greatly in their aesthetic.

In 2009, a study by Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration discovered that, “the largest total checks came from menus that used numerals only and did not mention dollars, either with a word or with a symbol.” Conversely, menus without pricing didn’t see much uptick in profit at all. Ditch the dollar sign and revamp that menu, asap.

Do you have any suggestions for a great menu design? Let us know in the comments below!

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