Restaurant Menu Optimization Guide for New Business

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Over the last few months, we have discussed different aspects of restaurant menu optimization. If you haven’t frequented our blog lately, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 

In this post, we will be hitting everything there is to restaurant menu optimization by highlighting various tactics to upsell your food items. Speaking of upselling, to say that customers shop with their eyes would be an understatement. 

The age of digitization has helped many food businesses to scale their sales tactics through a well-calculated product menu displacement. In a restaurant’s case, the term: “product” interprets as a tantalizing food menu that customers can buy on a whim. Ideally, this menu should be so well optimized that customers wouldn’t have to think twice before adding items to their virtual carts.

However, to achieve that effect, you’re going to have to play your cards right. It takes an intelligent combination of strategically placed food items, high-resolution shots, and constant menu optimization through some sort of dedicated back-end item/menu optimizer feature.

Fortunately, Blink. partners enjoy the convenience of creating such menus through a blend of dynamic item manager, Microsoft Power Bi reports, and other upselling tactics to go along with. As far as all three aspects of a powerful robust food app menu are concerned, we’ll be going through them in detail later on. 

For now, let’s see what menu engineering is all about.

Blink is your #1 Online Ordering Platform for Restaurants

What Is Menu Engineering In Terms of Restaurant Menu Optimization?

Menu engineering is the art of highlighting your most popular and profitable food menu items at the top of your digital menu. This menu is displayed on your restaurant food ordering app so that customers can peruse through a variety of popular dishes, discounted items managed through a separate highlighter, and many other things. 

Meanwhile, the menu can be accessed in real-time through the app’s back-end interface. In other words, you can do all that through your admin account at Blink. The logic behind introducing a dynamic item manager is simple – i.e. to help business partners generate profit after accounting for labor cost, food items cost, and the total number of sales for a given menu item.

Speaking of the profits vs. revenue relationship, there are many factors that allude to increased profit. For instance, your marketing tactics, the way you promote your food through social media, discount deals, customer service, and loyalty programs have an important role to play in the equation. However, at the end of the day, it all narrows down to your actual product, which is your restaurant’s digital food menu.

Restaurant Menu Optimization: Stars Vs. Puzzles and Dogs

From a holistic angle, a food menu is divided into 4 different quadrants. You have your Stars, Puzzles (*denoted by a question mark), horses/ cash cows, and dogs. The menu matrix has to be optimized in a way so that you can combine your lowest selling items or odd menu items with highly popular items for an optimized presell effect. 

How does that work?

Stars = Your most popular on-demand dishes

Puzzles = Those dishes that either sell in high vs. low numbers in an isolated case

Horses/ Cash Cows = Expensive food items, but they don’t sell more often 

Dogs = Tantalizing dishes that are not too popular despite the taste factor going on

In Dogs’ case, a restaurant may have a variety of scrumptious dishes that are not that popular for different reasons. One of these reasons could be the fact that the item was recently added to your customer-side food ordering app, so people haven’t seen it that much.

Another reason for the Dogs’ category unpopularity could be the fact that despite having an attractive price tag, the items are positioned too low on the food ordering app. This way, if customers have to scroll all the way down to look for these dishes, they may overlook them and buy something that’s easily visible in the top-fold section of the app. 

Here’s What We Suggest Doing

Blink business partners have access to an on-request feature, called: Microsoft Power Bi integration. It’s a dynamic dashboard that accumulates your food items’ sales data and showcases it in real-time through powerful dynamic reports. 

As you can see, the above image highlights ‘Star’ category items that are sold in combination with ‘Puzzles’, ‘Cash Cows’ and ‘Dogs’ respectively. 

The idea of such reports is to get a visual overview of unpopular vs. popular dishes which customers order in combination with one another. For instance, it’s a given fact that Burgers and Fries have a powerful combination. 

Similarly, Hummus doesn’t sell too well when you are offering it in combination with Burger or other fast food dishes. The business intelligence tool simply picks up on items that sell in a high frequency under the “bought together” effect on customers’ behalf. 

We recommend going through your business intelligence reports’ sales section to get a quick overview of food menu items that customers bundle together more often. This way, if you haven’t combined those items and offered them as a ‘Combo Deal’, or a recommendation, you can easily do so through Blink’s dedicated item/ menu manager feature.

Needless to say, the menu manager is a robust sub-level dashboard that helps restaurant business owners to create and optimize their existing menu in a matter of minutes. We wanted to revitalize the conventional menu management experience, by simplifying it through automated solutions, and drag n’ drop functionality. 

Since many business owners are not too tech-savvy, they desire to use a platform with a smoother learning curve and adaptability aspect. The ideology is part of Blink’s hyper-growth mantra, where menu engineering is one of the high-priority aspects of your business. 

Blink is your #1 Online Ordering Platform for Restaurants

Blink’s Exclusive 4 Restaurant Menu Optimization Tips for New Business Owners

In addition to some of the tips that we have discussed earlier in this post, here are some additional pointers to help you along the way. 

  1. Always make sure if there is even the slightest possibility of reducing the input cost of your food menu. If there’s a way of doing it without affecting the dishes’ quality, then go for it!
  2. Don’t forget to experiment with the price elasticity effect. It means that if the demand for certain ‘Star’ category items is high, you can not only increase their price but also combine them with odd-selling items to see if the combination works. 
  3. At some point, you will figure out the ceiling price for your most popular and unpopular dishes. We recommend further optimizing the price, by adjusting the values during discount campaigns, seasonal sales marathons, and vice versa.
  4. Test everything in Blink’s menu/ item manager. See if you can make changes to different properties of the menu item, such as, but not limited to:
    1. Food menu images. They are backed up in Blink cloud for instant retrieval. Upload, apply or retrieve them on a whim!
    2. You can change where the item appears on your customer-facing food ordering app. Blink lets you prioritize and deprioritize items through a numbering system.
    3. If you are sure about an item’s popularity, don’t hesitate to increase or edit its price. Run tests to see whether the increase or decrease in the price has affected the sales trend of the item, or caused customers to combine it with other low selling items from the Dogs category. 

Above all, add stuff to ‘Deals’, as we mentioned earlier. Pair something with a frizzy coke or a drink special to see if it has any effect on restaurant menu optimization strategy. 

General Restaurant Menu Optimization Tips For a Delightful Customer Experience 

Regardless of which restaurant ordering platform you use, the following restaurant menu optimization tips are worth a shot. 

Take a look below.

  • Highlight Your Best Items First!

This restaurant menu optimization tip goes without saying. Always prioritize your highly popular items over the least popular dishes for a healthy sales volume. 

If you are not sure about your best-selling food menu items, you can create a list of all your dishes and highlight those that you think are popular among customers. You can also highlight your already top fold menu items through distinct colors, or through a ‘Bestseller’ tag. Either way, such options depend on the business partner you are working with.

  • Create To-The-Point Descriptions

Although descriptions can allude to the intrigue factor, in the case of food menus, everything needs to be to the point. Yes, there’s room for adding wordiness from a copywriter’s perspective, but always mention what the dish is about. 

With crispy words, emphasize the core ingredients of the dish in a transparent manner. Why is the dish unique? What makes it so special or part of the ‘deal of the day’ offer? That’s where the description section of your overall restaurant menu optimization strategy can come in handy. 

  • Simplify Your Food Menu

Make your online food order menu very easy to understand and navigate through. The latter is part of the UX aspect of the app, so, we will discuss it in another post. However, as far as simplification itself is concerned, don’t get carried away with lengthy dish names, long descriptions, and vice versa.

On the same note, you may have dishes that you want to sell as an add-on product to a ‘Star’ category food item. In this case, you can append a ‘+’ icon through the back-end menu manager, so that your customers can make the extra addition to their primary order on their own.

Once again, some of the food menu app customizations and features are subject to the technical aspect of the platform. You can contact your vendor’s support team to see what they’re offering in terms of restaurant menu optimization perks for your online customers. 

  • Be Wary of Special Details

Allergens are there for a reason. Many food companies and restaurants go to extra lengths to add additional information about the ingredients they use in their popular dishes. Your next customer might be allergic to something. 

Therefore, to prevent a catastrophe, it is best to add ingredient breakdown in your food menu or include a special instructions section to your online food ordering app’s checkout screen. In the latter case, customers can use the special instructions area to mention if they are allergic to something, or if they don’t want a particular ingredient added to their order.

Have You Tried Blink Menu Management Before?

Blink offers a versatile back-end food & item menu manager. Although we mentioned some aspects of this feature in this post, there’s a whole breadth of perks that you need to check out on your own. In case of any technical difficulties, or if you need help understanding anything, in particular, be sure to contact our support team right away.

Blink is your #1 Online Ordering Platform for Restaurants

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