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Blog at Chefify

6 Tips to Make Sure Your Restaurant's Menu Doesn't Flop

Aug 19 2019 - 9:26am
There are many factors that could affect the success of your restaurant:
  • The ambience of your venue

  • The location

  • Your decor and interior design

  • Bad customer service reviews

  • Poor hygiene rating

  • Lack of facilities

But, one of the main and most concerning signs of failure (considering you're in the culinary industry) are the tell-tale signs that your menu is not appealing to your visitors. 

How can you tell that customers don't like your menu?

  1. Observe how many people read your menu board before entering and how many walk away. If you’re getting too much of the latter, your menu may be acting as a repellent. 

  2. You receive frequent complaints about specific dishes or elements of the meal that did not satisfy the customer. 

  3. Customers take a very long time to choose a dish. You’re either overwhelming with choice or they are struggling to find anything appealing. 

Many chefs take the menu way too personally, and by that we mean: They make it all about themselves, their personal preferences, and what they think will work.

But really, if you want people to come and eat your food, the big secret actually lies in simply making what customers want to eat. If you've not researched your market and based your menu on the likes and dislikes of your target audience, you could be positioning your business on the sharp edge of a culinary cliff.

So let's take a look at how you can ensure that your menu is delectable, enticing, sought-after and original.


The 6 Tips

1. Your pricing is off the mark

You have to be able to back up your prices. If you're charging extortionate rates for a side of fries, they better made from rare, organic potatoes, drizzled in truffle oil and edible gold dust, served on a bed of freshly picked organic rocket. Jokes aside, knowing your market and being competitive in your pricing will generate customers. So don't just pick a random number, ensure that your calculations and mark-up are appropriate for the customer-base you aim to serve.


2. No direction

Are you serving Thai? Italian? French? 

Sure, all of those cuisines have given the culinary world a lot to work with, but you may not necessarily be a specialist in all of them – and that's okay! 

Find what you do best. If it's gourmet toasted sandwiches, then make that your thing. Have some kind of consistency and story in your menu. Otherwise, it becomes a very diluted pick and mix. 

Having a sense of direction will dictate the kind of food you serve and how you present, market and brand your restaurant. In a congested market, differentiation really is crucial. Make sure your restaurant, your menu, and the overall vibe you're going for is representative of what your business is really about, and that it appeals to your target market, of course.

3. List your ingredients

Seriously – from a legal aspect, don't mess around in this department. 

Let customers know what you use as this could have serious consequences for people with allergies and intolerances. Furthermore, it helps customers to select a dish that they will really enjoy. There's nothing more disappointing than choosing an old favourite, such as lasagna, but it turns out that the restaurant does its own unique spin on it and adds ingredients that you did not anticipate. 


4. Don't be cheap

Yes, you need to make a profit, but many restaurants disappoint their loyal clientele when they decide to cut corners where it counts the most: the quality of the ingredients they use.

If you're going to try and be frugal somewhere, make sure it isn't in the core essentials of what makes your restaurant and your menu popular. If your restaurant is renowned for homemade French fries made from fresh potatoes and you suddenly dish up something from the frozen aisle, some of your customers may be very disappointed.  

Take pride in the food you make, and always let quality preside.


5. Decisions, decisions

I don't know about you, but when I'm hungry, I'm indecisive. 

Being presented with an extensive list of options and variations on a dish is asking my brain to expend energy it doesn't have. That's why I'm at your restaurant! I want to eat, I want to eat something delicious – the sooner, the better. 

So make my life easier, please: present me with a simple and easy-to-understand menu. Unless of course, you’re a 5-star gourmet restaurant and half your game is in having extremely pretentious dish titles and ingredients that require me to consult a Wikipedia.  

There are so many benefits to a minimalist menu:

1)  Less wastage in the kitchen as you don't have to stock ingredients for dishes that seldom get ordered.

2) You can become famous for the specialities you are well practised and adept in.

3) You reduce the possibility of getting orders wrong – more options mean more information to convey between the customer and the kitchen; plus, think of all that extra work training new staff on how your menu works and how it's prepared.


6. Cater to the modern consumer

So, we spoke about listing your ingredients, and this kind of ties in with that point. Ingredients really do matter to modern patrons. With so many new food preferences about that have arisen as a result of health requirements and lifestyle choices, it would be irresponsible of a restaurant to ignore the trends. However, it's important to do your market research and make sure that what you are offering is not only reflective of your restaurant's core values but also meets the needs of your market. If there is a demand for vegan and vegetarian dishes in your region, be sure not to alienate those consumers.


7. Keep your cupboards stocked

If it's on the menu and your waiters haven't informed the guests that you are unable to make a specific dish, it can be very disappointing to find this out after the selection process. See point 5 above about how difficult it can be to choose. 

Your menu is your restaurant business's biggest asset. From the careful planning and passion you've put into the design process, to the selection of the ingredients and the training that everyone in your kitchen has to undergo in order to deliver consistent dishes that delight your customer's tastebuds – there’s a lot to consider. 

It's the primary thing to get right, and once you do, you will start to reap the rewards of a truly successful business. 

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