One of the most powerful tools in any delivery or carryout restaurant’s marketing toolbox is the menu itself. Today, we zero in on the take-out menu, and how you can use menu design best practices to increase sales and profit on every ticket.
Carry-out, curbside pickup, and home delivery are among the fastest growing revenue segments in the restaurant industry. If you offer delivery service today, you already know that your take-out menu is the one marketing piece that virtually every customer sees—and not only sees peripherally, but actually takes the time to study in detail. So let’s look at the design of that menu, and how your customers interact with it.
Consider these tips on designing a more profitable take-out menu.
Use the space wisely. Studies show that customers are most likely to read, or pay closer attention to, certain “sweet spots” on the menu. That’s where you want to feature your most profitable menu items. On a bi-fold menu, it’s the right-hand page, a few lines from the top. On a tri-fold menu, it’s the centre page, a few lines from the top. Compare recipe costs, product margins, sales by item, and inventory usage to understand the real profitability of every item on your menu.
Which menu items should get these high-profile spots? If you could sell more, which items would drive the greatest profits?
SpeedLine user? View our Analyzing Item Sales video for tips on identifying menu stars and menu duds.
Make menu descriptions work. Use short, descriptive sentences rather than an ingredient list. Two-thirds of your menu won’t be read anyway—so use the space to sell with words and photos that make people’s mouths water, and a clean, appealing design.
Include daily/weekly specials. For a quick, convenient family meal, many families will pull out their stack of take-out menus and look at the specials first. I know I do. I don’t always choose them, but it does affect which restaurant I am going to order from. Display these prominently, and try mixing them up every so often.
De-bloat. Avoid the trap of adding more items to your menu just for variety. The trouble with a big menu? It can allow unprofitable menu items to lurk unnoticed. The most balanced and profitable menus are those where every item comes close to contributing equally to gross profits—either through margin or sales volume. Review your item sales in the POS regularly, and axe items (particularly low-margin items) that don’t sell well. Printing a new menu may cost you much less than absorbing ongoing waste and tying up cash flow in inventory that’s not moving.
Spread them around. Visibility is every bit as important as the design of your menus.The first key to sales is to get your menus in the hands of your guests. So keep them visible at the front counter, use them as box-toppers, and use them in mailings. When was the last time you did a mailout to the the customer database in your POS? See Point of Sale: Marketing from the POS Database for more ideas.
How effective is your take-out menu in driving sales and profits today?