13 Tips on Crafting Your Best Menu
Menus may look simple to the average customer, but they certainly require a lot of thought behind the scenes. The menu is the heart of a restaurant - it’s one of the first things customers look at and one of the main reasons they continue to return again and again. So of course, it’s essential that the menu reflects the restaurants' brand, ambiance, and style.
Whether you're revamping your current menu or creating a menu for a new restaurant concept, here are 13 tips to help you craft the best menu to delight your customers....
1. Keep branding consistent. Sticking to your brand is important when it comes to menu design. The menu should be cohesive with the rest of your space. Customers should see the correlation between the menu and the rest of the brand's marketing efforts (website, colors, font, apparel, etc.).
2. Give your menu breathing room. There should be empty spaces surrounding the text and images on your menu. Otherwise, crowded, cluttered text is extremely difficult for your guests to read. The negative space around your text and images helps draw the eye where you want it to go.
3. Make it easy on the eyes. If you use menu boards, make sure they are crisp and clear. Avoid tiny font sizes or low contrast color combinations that would make it hard to see. Consider using our Digital Menu Boards that are clear as day and can be customized to fit your restaurant's brand!
4. Allow for ongoing adjustments. Menus are not something that should be designed once, never to be touched again for years to come. Menus need to evolve with the times.
5. Include great photos. Let customers eat with their eyes by looking at high-quality photography of the dishes. Learn more here on how to execute the best food photography for your kiosk menus or menu boards.
6. Anchor menu prices. This is a simple technique that will encourage guests to buy more without realizing it. For example, a restaurant may start out with only two drink options - medium or large. Guests will be just as likely to buy either one. But add a third option - an extra-large - that is more expensive, and guests will subconsciously be drawn toward the middle choice. Relative to the most expensive and least expensive options, the "large" becomes a reasonable choice.
Back End Tips
7. Use data to drive menu choices. Dive into reports to find out which items are most popular. This will help you determine which items drive your customers to your restaurant, which increases check averages. Take a look at the best, worst, and middle grade performing items and decide how you want to adjust your menu moving forward.
8. Consider median income in your area. If you are deciding on a pricing strategy for a new concept, it’s important to take a look at the median income of the people in the surrounding area. This information will give you a better estimate of how much people are willing to spend on food. Of course check out the competition's pricing to get an idea, as well.
9. Make sure your online menu is Google-friendly. Your menu should be readable for search engines like Google, that is, it should be text on a web page instead of a PDF document. And, it’s important that the menu renders well on both a computer and a mobile device to get the most action from search engines. Here is more advice on optimizing your restaurant chain's website.
10. Communicate a new menu launch. Whether you are opening a new restaurant or launching a new menu, be sure that your staff is well educated. It’s important that they can speak to each and every item. It’s also a great idea to share the new menu on social media and your website. This can attract guests who haven’t been in for a while.
11. Create unique menu item names. Be creative with the names of your dishes. For example. Moe’s Southwest Grill named one of their burritos the “homewrecker” and their salad “close talker," making their menu fun and certainly memorable. Creative naming might even invite some customer shout-outs on Instagram.
12. Identify favorite or signature dishes. These can be in their own section or have a special character to distinguish it as a favorite (think a little burger symbol if you're a burger joint). This will help new customers make their decision without having to ask an employee what they recommend.
13. Be transparent. Health consciousness is on the rise and many concepts are starting to be more transparent about ingredients and nutritional value. Adding a calorie count to each dish, for example, is a simple way to show that you care about your customers well being.