Many businesses approach menu writing by researching trends and brainstorming creative ideas, with inspiration coming from many different sources. Whilst being creative and on trend are factors in menu creation, it’s more important to ensure that business acumen is applied and not just an ‘I like nachos, let’s do nachos’ approach. Here, Michelin starred chef, John Wood, shares his advice based on over 35 years of writing menus and running successful businesses.
Why aren’t my menus making a profit?
All too often businesses build what they believe to be a strong menu, only to be left wondering why they are not achieving targeted margins or profit further down the line. Dishes are often removed to make way for new ones for a variety of reasons:
Seasonality and availability of products.
The dish is not very popular.
A dish has received a number of complaints.
A ‘feeling’ that the menu needs rejuvenating.
However when updating your menu, it shouldn’t be simply a question of replacing category like-for-like recipes. There are some key considerations to think about for each and every dish, every recipe and every menu that your business creates.
5 Key Tips for Creating Profit Making Menus
Here are 5 tried and tested ways to make more money from menus.
Menu engineering – Looking at your sales data against your dish costs, margins and profit and seeing how they are performing individually and within the menu area and the entire menu.
Product Cross-Utilisation – using the same product or sub recipe across different recipes, to reduce purchase cost and increase operational efficiency
By-Product Utilisation – using the leftovers or trimmings for a product in another recipe
Menu Psychology – Reviewing your menu application, font, type of menu, size of menu, reviewing the ‘Sweet spots’ and ensuring you ‘Hero dishes’ are in them and ‘Boxing’, bold texting and all the things you do to make a menu work better for you from a customer’s perspective.
Manage Suppliers – making sure you are getting the best value and the best quality products
One restaurant I ran achieved a Michelin Star and a Bib gourmand, whilst regularly achieving a 77% GP margin (23% food cost), serving over 250 covers on a Saturday night with 9 chefs.
It is simply a question of working smart, reducing waste and keeping an eye on the commercials.
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