Use Your Menu Design to Promote High-Margin Dishes and Increase Restaurant Profits
Here’s one unfortunate truth of restaurant marketing: sometimes the most popular menu items aren’t the most profitable, and sometimes the most profitable menu items aren’t the most popular. As a restaurant owner, your goal is to market those high-margin dishes to maximize profits, and the easiest way to do that is with your menu design. Placement, photography, and descriptions can all help steer diners away from low-profit fare and guide them toward more bankable bites. With that in mind, try these menu design and restaurant marketing tips to make sure your most profitable menu items catch customers’ eyes.
Rearrange Item Placement on the Menu
Customers tend to scan the menu in predictable patterns, so placement of high-margin menu items is one key factor you can use to increase restaurant profits. You want customers to see your most profitable and popular dishes first. Since most diners start reading the menu from the top right, this is where you want to place your top-performing and most profitable offerings. To highlight several dishes, group them into creative categories within your menu design, such as “local favorites” or “comfort foods.” Place high-margin meals at the top of the list in each category, as customers tend to choose the first option.
Highlight High-Margin Dishes Using Menu Design Elements
Many people scan a menu for their usual favorites and disregard everything else, so it’s a good idea to use menu design elements to call attention to high-margin cuisine. Change the font color, size, or type so that the names and descriptions of these items stand out from the rest. Use icons to highlight healthy dishes or specialty features, such as local produce. Labeling these dishes as “house specialties” encourages customers to look at the distinctive items your restaurant offers before checking out the tried-and-true favorites.
Appeal to the Customer’s Senses
Make the most of the dish’s description by appealing to the customer’s senses. A study by Cornell University showed that using descriptive labels—think words like “crispy” and “juicy”—improves the customer’s attitude toward food, and intriguing text can boost sales by 25 percent when compared to other menu items. Titles such as “Tex-Mex Fajitas” or “Grandma’s Special Meatballs” create an air of authenticity. The goal is to use creative restaurant marketing to tantalize the diner’s taste buds and spark a craving.
Include Photos of Specials
Specials are high-margin dishes that you offer for a limited time—maybe for just a day. Getting return customers to try something new can be a challenge, and you don’t want to put too much pressure on your promos. Include photos of the dish and let the customer’s eyes make the decision. Post the photos on social media to draw new and return customers through your doors. Be sure to take lighting and plating into consideration for maximum appeal. If your restaurant rotates some of the same dishes as specials, then consider hiring a professional photographer for top-notch photos.
Offer Prix Fixe Menu Items on Special Occasions
Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are holidays when you can really cash in on high-margin menu items to increase restaurant profits. People are eating out in droves, and it’s a great time to leverage creative menu design. Consider offering a fixed-price (prix fixe) meal comprised of several courses to encourage customers to try some of those high-profit dishes. The fixed price reduces the number of light eaters (and spenders) and makes it easier for your kitchen to produce a large number of meals in a short amount of time to maximize those profits.
Redesigning your menu can have a big impact on how well your restaurant moves those profit-boosting menu items. Reconfiguring placement, using design elements to highlight key dishes, and using photos and creative wording to appeal to your customers’ senses can help turn some of your most rewarding fare into best sellers. Have any suggestions for great menu design tricks to increase restaurant profits? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author
Maya Deleon is a freelance writer who specializes lifestyle, health, and business articles. When she’s not at her computer writing an article or blog, you’ll find her with her nose in a book and her toes in the sand soaking up the sun on the beach.
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