Increase Restaurant Profits With Smart Menu Design

by Craig Anthony

2 min read

There are plenty of industry best practices you can apply to your menu to increase your revenue. In fact, menu engineering is a dedicated practice that looks at menu item profitability and popularity to determine the best placement of items on your menu. There’s even a scientific menu engineering formula that can help you determine this cost and function. The field of menu psychology evaluates customers’ gaze patterns and determines some concepts that could help you design your menu. Implement some of these menu tactics to generate more profits at your restaurant.

Use Smart Pricing and Placement

Price shopping happens when people look for the most inexpensive items on the menu when they’re choosing what to order. To limit this practice, don’t use dollar symbols on your menus, and don’t anchor the prices by aligning them. Instead, place them after the menu item (such as “Poutine, 4.25”)Menu psychology says that people don’t pay attention to pricing increments that are less than $1; that is, people don’t perceive a real difference between $17.25 and $17.95. Price specials at 95 cents over a flat dollar figure to maximize your return.

Highlight High-Profit Items

When accounting for the items to highlight on your menu, you should consider the items that have the highest profit (menu price minus the cost) as well as the items’ popularity. The items that make you the most money and that people frequently order are your best bets to highlight. Menu psychology suggests that you should be placing these items centrally on the menu. Some schools of thought say that people typically look first at the top center item, while others suggest that your customers read your menu like a book, from top left to right and down the page. It also suggests that you should place popular items at the top or bottom of particular sections. Once you’ve determined which items to highlight, you can highlight them with an icon or photography that designates them as chef favorites or customer favorites to encourage others to buy more. It might be best to hire a photographer or read up on food photography tips so that all food is represented in its best light. Food that doesn’t look appetizing in a photo won’t benefit your sales. Highlight items sparingly.

Make It Look On-Brand

The menu should be easy to read, and it should be divided into sections that make sense. Design it so that it portrays your brand and character through its typography, colours, and artwork. Colours are also important. According to Design Shack, “Red is thought to stimulate appetite, for example. Green is commonly associated with healthy options. Blue is thought to suppress the urge to eat.” However, the colours should speak to your brand as much as possible. The best way to decide how to create your menu is to see what is working for other restaurants. Go out to eat and note where your eyes are drawn first, what colours you gravitate toward, and what you find pleasing. You could assess it more scientifically by trialing two menu versions for two weeks at a time and see which version drives higher profits.

References & Resources

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