With winter months finally behind us, it’s time to get a jump on spring cleaning in your restaurant. After dusting chandeliers and scrubbing the kitchen, don’t skip sprucing up a vital part of your restaurant: the menu.
As the only form of marketing that all of your customers will see, the menu guides and determines dining decisions within your restaurant. Not only does your menu present everything a customer needs to know about your business, but the right menu design can potentially increase sales of particular items, affecting overall revenue. One of the key ways to increase restaurant sales is to increase spend – and optimizing your menu is one great way to do that, drawing attention to add-ons and higher margin items.
One of the most essential elements of menu design is length. If customers are flipping through a ten page menu, they may get frustrated by having too many choices, but pressured to make a decision quickly. Your servers are also hindered, as they’re continually sent away by indecisive customers, decreasing table turn (another key way to increase restaurant sales).
An average customer only spends about 109 seconds on a menu, so make that time count by optimizing the design to be easily digestible while giving an impression of variety. Every season, or at least every six months, you should analyze your menu to gauge which items are bestsellers and which underperformers need boosting or should be removed. Tightening the menu will also increase your overall revenue by being able to print more updated menus at a lower cost.
After you’ve edited the choices down to a more manageable amount, you should look at your menu’s structure. Items should be grouped into several categories, such as appetizers, sandwiches, pasta and desserts. The more categories your menu has, the more choices diners think they have without being too overwhelmed. You can also impact the sales of certain items based on their position on the page. Hot spots include the first page’s top right corner and the top or bottom item in each category. Vertical menu designs are also most effective.
Then you can add graphics, colors and other design elements to call out your bestsellers, specials or dishes that need a promotional boost. Boxing off sections highlights those parts of your menu, and adding “New” or “Favorite” icons attracts the eye. Complementing certain items with professional food photos draws a diner’s attention, but use them somewhat sparingly as too many may lessen the value a photo brings to your menu. You can also use colors to influence dining decisions—red accentuates items and invokes excitement, while green signifies health and nature.
You also should ensure the menu reflects your brand’s personality and style. The voice used in dish descriptions should be consistent with your marketing strategy, whether you’re aiming for sophisticated refinement or a fun and festive atmosphere. While font could have an impact on communicating your brand identity, it’s important to make sure the typeface is clear and crisp while the size is large enough to please all of your diners.