Posted on Wednesday, 9ᵗʰ September, 2020
There’s never been a better time to conduct a thorough audit of your menu. At a time when you need to make every order count and there are profitability challenges on all fronts, making sure your menu is optimised for success should be the first goal of every hospitality business.
We’ve all heard of upsizing and downsizing but today’s biggest menu trend is best described as rightsizing.
It’s the process of rigorously assessing your menu to ensure every item is making a contribution your business, removing dishes that are a drain on your operations.
Menus should work for us, not the other way around. That means they should be lean, profitable and adaptable. Optimising your menu requires time and discipline but should be undertaken regularly to take into account changing business conditions.
Right now, that means addressing the industry-wide pivot to delivery, managing the challenges of a variable supply chain and dealing with reduced in-venue seating.
Today’s point-of-sale systems are more advanced than ever. But many chefs and business owners still prefer to work on instinct. Ignoring the data that’s at your fingertips is one of the more costly mistakes you can make.
Of course, there’s more to data than simply extracting it. While your sales figures might show a particular dish to be a good seller, unless you unpack the data fully to factor in your costs, you’ll never know if that dish provides a good, average or poor margin.
Not sure where to start? We’ve created a useful guide that shows you how to use point-of-sale data to engineer a more profitable menu for the post-COVID world. Download the PDF guide and the accompanying Excel template here.
A quick look at what’s selling well in the delivery sphere could unlock some fresh ideas for your menu. For example, recent data from Deliveroo has revealed that orders of fish and chips have skyrocketed nearly 600% during the isolation period.
Pre-prepared meal services have also reported a significant spike in demand, with many top restaurants now piggy-backing off this increased interest to offer popular dishes in a cook-at-home format.
Sydney CDB restaurant Mr Wong offers a selection of home dining kits that are supported with extensive written instructions for the home cook, detailed video tutorials and even an online music playlist to enjoy as you dine at home.
Your venue might be famous for a certain dish but perhaps it isn’t the most profitable item on your menu. Can you find ways to improve the margin you make on that dish?
For example, a review of ingredients might turn up a more efficient way to produce that dish. An easy win here could be starting with a pre-prepared sauce base to build custom flavours with a minimum of effort and expense.
Another way of looking at things is to consider ways to better promote your most profitable menu items. That could be through a menu re-design that makes your most lucrative dishes more prominent.
It’s smart business to adjust your pricing when your costs increase.
And right now, we’re likely to be spending more on cleaning, signage and other COVID-related compliance measures, not to mention losing margin due a reliance on aggregated delivery services to get our food to customers.
Could you charge a dollar or two more for your top dishes to improve the impact they have on your bottom line?
While price increases are never popular, your customers will be more understanding than ever of your need to maintain a reasonable margin in this challenging environment.
With the newfound popularity of delivery and takeaway, it makes sense to remove menu items that don’t package up or travel well. A disappointing delivery experience will have more impact on a business during this period than it’s ever had before.
An optimised menu also benefits your back-of-house. Streamlining your food offering improves speed and efficiency, also helping you get the most out of new or inexperienced staff. This is vital while the pandemic affects the predictability of staffing and recruitment.
Optimising your menu makes good business sense. It gives you the chance to cull dishes that are costly to produce, aren't selling well or don’t stand up to the rigours of delivery.
The process will also help you identify your most profitable dishes and work out what to promote to maximise your bottom line.