A menu is more than just a list of the dishes a restaurant has available; it is an advertising tool capable of communicating a restaurant’s identity, exciting your customers and driving profit – but only if it’s well designed.
A bad menu can spell disaster for your establishment. More often than you might think, the menu is a major contributor to poor sales. Common mistakes include, misalignment of brand and menu, print is too small to read easily, spelling mistakes, too little or too much choice. With these mistakes in mind, we've put together a list of things that will help you create the perfect menu for your business.
First things first
Creating a menu does not necessarily have to cost a lot, but firstly you will need to identify a budget. Depending on your experience and connections, you may want to hire a professional to assist with the categorisation, layout and graphic design. It’s also important to do your research and check out your competition’s menus. Find menus you like and identify your favourite elements, so you can design one that is the perfect fit for your business. It is also important to consider your target market and local community. Think carefully about what your business is able to offer that your local competition do not, and how your pricing compares to them.
Creating a menu that is in keeping with your business brand and personality isn’t the simplest of tasks, but it is important that your menu communicates your brand identity effectively, as well as promoting sales. You can employ a professional to design your menu, or alternatively if you feel confident managing this yourself you can use a menu creator website, which will give you a nudge in the right direction. It is important to keep your menu shorter, rather than longer, otherwise customers often overlook a number of menu items, which can cause high levels of wasteage and profit loss.
Layout & categorisation
Many people don’t realise how important the placement of dishes are on the menu, but where you place a dish on your menu can really affect your sales. Many designers use a menu matrix when designing a menu, which offers an instant visual aid of where menu items fall in sales volume and gross income. To create a menu matrix, start by plotting your menu items on an X and Y axis, based on their popularity and profitability. For example, high profitability and high popularity items should be strongly emphasised.
Effectively categorising your menu items is a vital part of menu design. You need to consider what you intend on drawing attention to and what would work best for your business. If you serve from morning until night, you have the option to combine your breakfast, lunch and dinner menu into one, or alternatively create separate menus for each meal.
Including a description of your dishes on your menu can either increase your sales or prevent a customer from ordering. A good description should be powerful enough to make your customer’s mouth water, and should include more than just ingredients, for example, include relevant terminology and geographical information about your food to aid selling. With allergies and intolerance's a very important factor when running a restaurant, it is important to consider using an icon to represent what is gluten free, dairy free, vegan or vegetarian. Your customers with dietary restrictions will appreciate being able to easily find meals they can eat.
Using food photography within your menu can sometimes do more harm than good. Our advice is to allow your customers to conjure up an image of your food themselves. In many cases a photo doesn’t do food justice, and it restricts you from experimenting with the design of your dish. If you do decide to include photography of your food in your menu, it’s worth investing in a professional photographer to do this for you.
There is research that suggests that leaving currency symbols off your menu can encourage customers to spend more as it removes the association between prices on the menu and actual money. This method of showing prices on the menu is becoming popular with many modern restaurants.
Creating an exciting menu that is in-keeping with your business brand and personality is crucial to the success of your restaurant. Creating a fantastic menu can be relatively inexpensive, yet an incredibly important and useful tool for encouraging sales, and reinforcing your brand. But remember, if your menu is great, your product must be too!