Optimizing your restaurant menu can lead to higher profit margins for your business. This process takes into account different practices like constant tracking of your most profitable and popular dishes. With this in mind, the 7 simple tricks by the Choco team can help you make the most out of your offer.
In this article, we talked about the art of menu engineering and provided you with formulas to calculate food costs, revenues, and prices of your dishes, as well as practical tips on how to drive your customers' choices. Here, we’re gonna see what other things you can do to improve the profitability and popularity of your menu.
1. Work with trusted suppliers
Choosing the right suppliers and maintaining a good relationship with them is one of the key aspects of running your restaurant and creating a tasty and profitable menu. The more you cultivate these partnerships, the more likely you'll be to receive special deals, strengthen your network, and can make sure you don't run out of your favorite items.
However, it is important to remember that your restaurant is not alone in this business. For this reason, you want to make sure that you're building a good reputation by, for example, avoiding ordering mistakes and communicating efficiently (with the Choco app, you can keep all your suppliers in one place, view orders in real-time and reduce the chance of mistakes).
Among your selected partners, you can choose to support local business - even when your restaurant is mostly relying on large-scale suppliers, make sure you are checking out on local and seasonal food offer to see what can be included on your menu in order to make it more sustainable.
Also, your local restaurant community can be a lifeline when it comes to ordering your products, and purchasing in groups can make things easier for suppliers, as well as help drive your food costs down.
2. Keep up with the latest food trends
Although your restaurant is likely to present an already defined menu concept, it is important to monitor the latest industry trends or simply keep an eye on what your local restaurant community is doing.
From innovating your packaging (by choosing alternative and more environmentally friendly materials) to including some superfoods to boost your guests' health, there are many ways to bring on that added value that customers look for.
Speaking of industry trends: have you already taken a look at our fermentation masterclass? Improve your cooking techniques together with our trusted masters, starting with expert Markus Shimizu from Mimi Ferments and his recipe of shiō koji.
3. Avoid decorations on the plate
While styling your food can delight customers' eyes, using ingredients to decorate your plate is not always the most sustainable choice. This is particularly true when thinking of dishes presenting a single leaf of salad and any flower or vegetable that ends up being discarded by customers.
In this case, you should always follow the rule that anything that is present on the plate should be eaten - if not, take it off. There are many creative ways to improve the aesthetic of your menu without wasting food and money.
4. Make a signature sauce
Customers enjoy finding their beloved standard options (especially when it comes to items like pizza, sandwiches, or burgers). However, they also love trying new things: that's why offering a signature sauce is a good, "in-between" trick to elevate your menu by bringing a new and unique taste to it and, at the same time, strengthening your brand.
In the food industry, there is plenty of cases of companies and restaurants being successful for their signature sauce. And here, food waste can play an important role for your restaurant business.
5. Make it light
This rule applies to your overall menu, as well as to the single dishes. Firstly, instead of presenting an endless list of options that can be overwhelming for customers, you should focus on a smaller offer - better to make the most out of fewer things, than letting some potentially fruitful dishes be overshadowed by an enormous menu list.
Offering a shorter menu also leaves more room for customization, seasonal changes, or the addition of daily specials, which can be a good strategy to promote your offer among new and loyal customers.
Instead, when it comes to dishes, make sure that, after you've adapted your selling price to your food cost, you adjust portions and quantities of ingredients to make your items profitable and to minimize food waste - although serving light dishes might not fit every restaurant concept, the possibility of ordering a smaller portion of the same option can result in less waste and higher value for your food, and lead customers to think that they are getting a better deal.
6. Pair drinks with dishes
Beverages can also be used to improve customers' experience and make your menu more profitable. Your signature cocktails, selected wines, or home-brewed kombuchas can be just the right completing element within the dining experience - especially, focusing on low or non-alcoholic beverage options can be a good strategy, when considering the growing trend.
Drinks can play an important role in completing the taste journey of a certain dish as well, especially when their flavors component are broken down and combined with the ones of the dishes. From creating a tasting menu with paired drinks to training your staff to suggest the right combos or explore their local territorial beverage productions, there is a lot that you can experiment with when it comes to improving your drinks offer.
7. Express your character: style, design, ambiance
Your customers' experience is not made up of food by itself - it's a real play! Although what you're serving is at the core of it, you should not forget about details that are as well important. Make sure that everything in your restaurant is "on-brand", from the way you design your menu and space to the music that you play.