Menu engineering

Create a smart menu that’s bound to increase sales and boost profits using modern data analytics.

Maybe engineering was never your cup of tea, or maybe this term just sounds very complicated. I’m not going to deny either of those facts, but I can tell you that learning the process of menu engineering is going to help you greatly if you want your restaurant to sky rocket. Menu engineering is basically the process of integrating marketing and efficiency to your menu.

But wait, marketing to your menu? That doesn’t sound right. I mean, if a customer is already reading your menu, then he’s already “sold” on you, isn’t he?

Not really. Countless people walk into restaurants, only to walk out once they see the menu. Either the food is too expensive, or they don’t see anything they like, or there is just something about the restaurant they rather preferred it didn’t have. I mean, your restaurant isn’t the only one around. If a customer finds some excuse not to choose your restaurant, there are tons of other restaurants ready to welcome them.

Next, even if your customer reads your menu, orders something, then start eating away, your marketing is partially successful. But at this point, you should focus on something else: making sure that your new customer becomes a regular. Regulars can generate anywhere from 25% to 125% of your total profit, and a perfectly engineered menu can help you with this.

Before we start, I am pleased to let you know that if you think menu engineering is too complicated for you, all hope is not lost. At, our teams have engineered countless menus for restaurants in order to help them grow, using up to date analytics and data specific to your local region, to get the best menus that attract your customers and make sure that your customers stay attracted. Just talk to your territory manager, or drop us an email on , and we’ll be more than happy to help out.

Either way, what make the perfect ingredients of a great menu? A lot, I should say. Menu engineering is a mix of analysing customer psychology, preferences, historical data, product recipes, current trends, and a host of other important information to produce a scientifically backed menu. Now, I know that a “scientifically backed menu” sounds weird, but I simply mean that your menu should reflect actual facts, and not just made up theories.

Firstly, take a look at your history. What are you most popular dishes? Put them in a graph and visualize the ones you think should go on the top of your menu. If you are affiliated with us, we can provide you with this data:

Then next to every dish add / create the recipe for it. You should write down next to the dish how many ingredients it requires, the complexity of creating the dish and how many of those ingredients are unique only to this dish. I mean if you have a pizza store, between all pizzas you should share several product (flour, tomato sauce, cheese) and some dishes will have products only used in that pizza like Pineapple!

You should end up with something like this:

A graph like this should give you a pretty good idea of what you can use to keep your customers loyal to your restaurant from the moment they walk in. You should be able to figure out exactly which dishes to put in the top of the menu, and which to hide away in the end. Sure, every customer is different, so whether they like what you put on the top of the menu is completely up to them. However, remember that you aren’t basing your menu choices off the data of one customer. Even though every customer is unique, getting averaged data from many unique customers should be able to make some pretty great predictions.

When looking at the chart above, verify if you need to have those high complexity low selling high number of unique ingredient dishes. Do they make sense to keep in the menu? Maybe try to add other products that look more your high selling or try to bundle them up into a “meal” to upsell the customers.

You should also use this data to decide how much your food is going to cost. For a good starting point, take this formula and recalibrate it to match your needs:

Here a tip: never reduce the quality of your food in a hope of making a bigger profit. The profit is going to be very short lived. If your food costs more to make because you ensure that everything is high quality, just charge your customers more. They’ll find higher prices more acceptable that unsatisfied stomachs.

Finally, you need to put some thought into the colours splayed across your menu. Make sure it conforms to the theme of your restaurant while also including appetite-inducing colours, such as red and yellow. Don’t clutter it too much, but don’t make it boring either.

All in all, there is a sweet spot you should use to make your menu do the marketing for you. With some good marketing, your restaurant is bound to succeed, because even though there are a lot of restaurants, there are also a lot of people out there, looking for meals they love.

Are you ready to become part of the community?


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