Boost Restaurant Profits with Strategic Menu Designs

Today, restaurant customers are choosing to eat out less frequently and are more conservative with their spending. This trend is evident in our QSR industry sales and traffic data. The question arises: Have restaurant brands reached their pricing limit?

In the latest Revenue Steam episode by Revenue Management Solutions, an industry panel tackled this question and more. They shared various tips on how to boost sales through your restaurant’s menu design.

Maximize Your Menu to Drive Value, Sales and Traffic

Before creating a path for a menu redesign, it’s a good idea to look back at these last few years, says Robin Blanchette, CEO & Founder of Norton Creative. Blanchette and her team have developed and redesigned hundreds of menus for restaurant operators.

Throughout the pandemic, there was a massive shift to reduce the size of menus. Blanchette highlights the restaurant industry’s focus on making menus as small as possible, as fast as possible. This put previously important factors such as menu real estate, architecture and layout behind.

Now, restaurant businesses have the opportunity to use menu optimization to create a restaurant menu that is both value-driven and profitable.

As restaurant owners design their menu, here are four important factors to keep in mind:

Strategically Guide Customers with Menu Engineering

The days of taking an arbitrary 50 cents or dollar off a food item are past us. Now is the time to use menu research and menu engineering to lead your customer base to where you want them to go.

“We tell our clients all the time, ‘You tell guests what to order through your restaurant menus. So be thoughtful about it,’” says Blanchette. By arranging their menu strategically, brands can ensure that their most profitable items get sold first.

Craft a Guest-Centric Menu Experience

Blanchette suggests reorganizing your menu to make it feel more palatable to your guest. Today’s customers are aware of price increases. Trying to hide this  can harm both brand reputation and customer satisfaction.

Instead, focus on overall value. Have you upgrade your ingredients? Is there an item on your menu that is now part of a bundle that creates a feeling of abundance for the consumer? The goal is not to hide price increase but rather align with customer preferences and their changing behaviors.

Watch the full Revenue Stream episode to learn how restaurant brands can recession-proof their business and combat inflation.

Balancing Design With Data

Crafting a food menu design that strategically increases profits requires a mix of design and data. Creating a menu that’s eye-catching and functional is one thing, says Blanchette. It’s quite another to engineer a menu based on restaurant data. 

With inflation and customer price sensitivities increasing, brands are adopting a scientific approach to pricing and menu reengineering. Jana Zschieschang, CBO of Revenue Management Solutions, explains understanding the reasoning behind each menu item is crucial.

What is each item’s contribution margin? Should you replace a specific product? Should you work on food costs, maybe even eliminate certain SKUs? Answering these questions is essential for maintaining profitability beyond basic price adjustments.

Design Your Menu with Strategic Creativity

Before the pandemic, menus were used to help drive foot traffic. During the pandemic, efficiency took priority over traffic. Now, it’s time to return to more creative menus. While this certainly includes aesthetics, it also means strategic menu creativity.

For instance, for digital menus, avoid blind spots and suggestive selling at the checkout phase. Whether it’s a drive-thru, kiosk, physical or online menu, find items or combination that won’t trade down with other products. Consider increasing profits by offering a new item or limited-time offers at an entry-level price. The key is strategic menu placement.

Boost Profitability While Retaining Guest Loyalty

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for menus, brands can proactively protect their restaurant foot traffic and guest count. Leveraging design and restaurant menu data is a powerful way to optimize and grow profitability. 

Today, more than 50 global brands trust RMS to optimize their menu and pricing strategy. Explore our menu engineering solutions or contact our team to get started.

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