For all restaurant, hotel and catering managers one of the most important jobs is the creation of a restaurant menu that is both appealing and profitable. The dining consumer can be fickle and it’s vital that, as well as including steady favourites, a menu designer considers new and innovative restaurant menu ideas to keep the diners coming in order to keep company profits up. We have done our research and come up with the top 10 ways to make your restaurant more profitable.
Understand your profit margins
We all have our favourite restaurant menu ideas and so do our customers but it’s as important for managers in catering as for any managers to understand which menu items offer the most potential for profit. These items will comprise of lower-cost ingredients and shorter preparation time. They will also be those that can be sold at a high market level. Once you have completed detailed costings and highlighted the higher-profit items you can make sure that they are repeated on your menu and promoted.
Focus on menu design
Menu design has a surprising impact on what your customers will choose to buy. A clever designer will be able to subtly emphasise your more profitable items using fonts, colour, text placement or boxes. Text placement is perhaps the subtlest of these. By placing a high-profit restaurant menu item next to a more expensive, luxury item the high-profit one will seem more attractive; this is known as relative pricing.
Invest in your products and your staff
Even the most brilliant of menus will fail to make you a profit if you haven’t chosen the right staff to back up your restaurant menu ideas. Dining out is primarily about the food but it’s also about the experience. Choose a chef who has experience preparing quality food on time and with consistency. Your chef should also be capable of running an effective team. Your front of house staff are also very important, as they are the face of your company.
Include bespoke soups
Soup recipes can be tailored to seasonal and lower-cost ingredients and often use leftover ingredients. A good chef will be able to develop a range of bespoke and tasty soups for your menu that will keep your customers coming in for a bowl of tasty comfort and keep your profits high. Focus on developing great stocks from high-quality meats which will pack your soup menu with flavour.
Maximise your pasta expertise
Despite tastes for all kinds of unusual shapes, colours and sizes, pasta remains a very cheap base ingredient and can be a key player when it comes to restaurant menu ideas and restaurant profits. Whilst vegetarian pastas are amongst the cheapest to produce, it is the meat-based pastas that attract the most customers and really give that depth of flavour and warmth that people seek when they order a pasta dish. The keys to a profitable meat-based pasta dish are quality and flavour; cured meats, for example, can often pack a big taste punch for relatively little quantity.
Focus on food and beverage pairings
Wine has long been subject to high mark-ups that are, to a great extent, understood and accepted by customers. One way to maximise on this high-profit item is to create elements of your restaurant menu that offer wine pairings. Suggest a specific bottle of chianti to complement your veal, chicken or tomato based sauces and a full-bodied red such as a cabernet sauvignon to accompany the robust flavours of game and red meats.
Take a careful look at your children’s menu
The children’s menu is traditionally one place where a restaurant menu can be profitable, however it is important to be aware that the discerning parent, who will ultimately control dining choices, is no longer satisfied with a plate of chips or fish fingers for their youngsters. One profitable menu idea would be to develop a range of smaller portion meals that reflect the taste and ethos of the adult menu whilst still appealing to younger palates. As any mother will tell you, this can be a tall order but get it right and you will have family diners flocking to your door with their hordes of offspring and ready to pay a near adult price for a profitable menu item.
Think carefully about menu descriptions
In recent years menu descriptions have undergone a range of changes. The words ‘healthy’, ‘organic’ and ‘sustainable’ gave way to over-egged adjectives such as ‘smashed’, ‘drizzled’ and ‘infused’ and now the dining public is looking for something with tones that are a bit more honest and down to earth. In other words, diners want to know what is in their food but are happy to make the descriptions themselves once they have eaten it. Your menu descriptions should emphasise the quality or innovative ingredients in your dishes and focus on emphasising higher profit items.
Carefully brief your staff
Your front of house staff should be well versed in describing each of the dishes on your menu. They should be able to add additional information and have been given the opportunity to taste the dishes themselves. This almost goes without saying but it is perhaps even more important that your waiting staff understand which menu items are more profitable so that they can play their part in promoting these.
Make use of your specials menu
A specials menu can serve a range of purposes. It can help you to use up surplus ingredients, provide interest to keep customers coming back to your restaurant and also promote some of your high-profit items. Treat your specials menu as a mini-menu in its own right. You can use relative pricing and text emphasis on a specials board in the same way as you can on a paper menu.
Customers often find making menu choices difficult. They want to make the most of their dining experience, are torn between staying healthy and satisfying appetites and don’t want to end up feeling that their meal is somehow less than that of their companions. Skillful restaurant menu planning can take advantage of this uncertainty by providing a range of interesting restaurant menu ideas, understanding profit margins for all dishes and gently leading the diner towards the higher profit menu items.
Since its beginnings in the heart of London’s famous Smithfield Market, IMS of Smithfield have been satisfying restaurant, hotel and catering customer’s needs for high quality and cost effective meat products. For more information about how we can help you with your meat procurement requirements please get in touch here or call 020 73833080