How to boost your business: Menu engineering
Linda Even is the leading menu specialist in the Netherlands and possibly in Europe. With her unique menu scan she helps chefs and restaurant owners to optimise their menus. “I can’t look at a menu normally any more. There are often so many opportunities to improve sales and increase turnover!” Read on to learn how your menu can become a useful tool in boosting your business.
“My knowledge is based on scientific research into the way people make choices. The studies are often only available to students and lecturers in universities, and the articles tend to be written in English are very long. I have adapted these complicated theories so they can be used in practice. Since I have had a lot of experience of working in the hotel, restaurant and catering sector in the past, I also know what I'm talking about. I understand that menus must be easy to keep clean and that some dishes take more time to make than others.” She mainly looks at the way the different items are positioned and presented. “It is all about temptation.”
Getting rid of the euro sign
Research has also shown that in restaurants where the euro sign has been taken off the menu, the average spend is 8.15% higher. “Virtually all guests find it annoying to be constantly reminded of the fact that they will have to pay the bill at the end of the evening”, explains Linda. “If you make sure you minimise triggering the primitive brain in that area, people find it easier to spend and they spend more. She also points to so-called valuable words, which can make or break a dish. “These are adjectives that make a dish irresistible. They allow you as a guest to have an even better idea of what to expect. I divide valuable words into three categories: geographical words, sensory words and nostalgic words. These could include references to a country or local area, describe the texture of an ingredient or a word such as ‘traditional’. It is best not to use words like ‘tasty’ or ‘delicious’: they are subjective.”
People often decide on the basis of your menu whether or not to come and eat with you. “Many people now explore online”, says Linda. “So make sure your menu is online and make sure it looks superb. Also display the menu in a glass case at the entrance, if the location is suitable for that. Attractive photos and the right dishes will reassure people: they want to be confident that the food is going to be good." “Make sure the photos you use are of good quality and displayed large enough. when your guests see them, they should almost be able to taste the dish. You should also choose a font that is easy to read. It may seem obvious, but after the trend of having handwritten menus in recent years it does need to be mentioned. Be aware of the colour of your letters and the background too.”
Desserts on the menu
To tempt customers to order a dessert after they have had a starter and main course, Linda Even says you really need to get them into party mode. “You definitely need to make sure your guests have some space left over for that third course. Consider offering a range of smaller desserts. One of my customers who started offering desserts in two sizes saw dessert sales rise by no less than 92%. Use photographs and tempting words to sell your desserts. Then exceed those expectations.”