Menu Mistakes That Can Cost You

If your menu is confusing and hard to read, you run the risk of your customers becoming so apprehensive that they will not return. If your menu text is too small or you have too many items on your menu, you might be “shooting yourself in the foot.”

Diners want a stress-free, dining experience that will help them escape from the full plate of their hectic, daily family and career responsibilities. Most diners yearn for a relaxing, carefree experience perfectly seasoned with a succulent fare flavored with impeccable service to share with family and friends. After all, dining is a form of entertainment affording its loyal enthusiasts with rich tasting, savory rewards.

Savvy diners will compare your menu items to your competition just to see how you match up value-wise. Do your menu offering taste better, offer larger portions or a better presentation, at the same or lower cost? These are the questions you must answer to outsmart your competition. Yet your signature dishes, the ones your customers know they cannot get elsewhere, can be priced a little higher to entice your patrons to visit you regularly.

It pays to evaluate your presentation as seen through the eyes of your customers. Take pictures of your fully prepared dishes and ask yourself, “Is this worth the price I am asking on my menu?” “How can I improve the ingredients or presentation?” “How does my dish stack up to my competitors?”

Comparing your menu with that of your competition not only helps you to analyze your menu pricing, but it helps you to forecast how to measure your profits. In addition, you will be able to determine which menu items are most popular, which are most profitable, which ones need enhancement, and most importantly, which ones need to be deleted or replaced all together.

One of the biggest mistakes a restaurant can make is to present a poor layout and menu design. A restaurant menu should not be an afterthought or something that is thrown together casually. It must be well thought out and analyzed over several weeks if not months before opening your establishment. It takes time, a creative thought process, and analysis to make the most of your menu design and options so that the results of your effort will be rewarding. A
well-crafted menu can improve your sales on an average of 2 to 10 percent, which can equate to anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 per year.

If you place the highest profit margin menu items in the wrong place, it can drastically affect your profit margin. There are different “prime spots” on a menu where a customer’s eyes are naturally drawn depending on the design and layout of the menu. On a twofold menu, it is the spot that is on the right hand page a few lines from the top. On a tri-fold menu, it is positioned in the center of the layout, just a few lines from the top. Professionally marketed restaurants carefully plan what items to place into these prime spots to successfully promote their popular menu items and increase revenues.