Did you know that your menu is one of the best profit-making tools you have? We have found four clever tricks that will lead your customers to the items that you want them to buy. Plus, we remind you of a very important task that many restaurants seem to forget. 

Make your customers choose

There is a whole field of study dedicated to menu engineering. But you don’t have to go back to school to learn how to make a profit from your menu. Menu engineering is all about guiding your customers through clever pointers, encouraging them to buy exactly the items that you need them to buy to make a profit. There are millions of clever tips to use – you could start out with these:

1) Identify your profitable items

Your expensive dishes or your most popular items are probably not the ones paying your bills. The profitable ones are. Keep an overview of all of your courses including cost per item, menu price and profit per item to find out where you are making your money. That way, you will see which items you need to push a bit more by placing them strategically on your menu, encouraging your customers to buy them. “Strategically, how?” you might be thinking. Well, check out section 2 to find out what it means.

But first, check out this YouTube clip to find out how easy it is to define your profitable items.

2) Place your prices cleverly

There is always a risk that your customers will discard some of the courses on your menu due to price. But that hurdle can easily be overcome. All you have to do is think strategically.

First of all, forget about placing your items in price order. By mixing up your courses, you encourage your customers to focus less on the money and more on what their stomach is telling them. Secondly, place your most expensive course at the bottom of your section, making your other, more profitable dishes look much more affordable and thus more attractive. And last but not least, put the price next to the name or the description of the course instead of having a gap between the course and the price. This will give the perception that the price is a part of the course and not a noticeable entity that they need to pay attention to.

Read more: Why fewer items on your menu create riots and increase sales

3) Use sensory words

Another way of taking focus away from the price is by appealing to your customers’ feelings. So, instead of just writing “Burger”, “Salad” or “Chocolate cake”, add some descriptive words that will make their mouth water and stomach rumble. You could try something in the lines of: “Tasty burger with homemade buns and juicy meat served with crispy French fries”, “Fresh salad based on local produce from Larson’s farm” or “Moist, delicious chocolate cake with a hint of orange and seasonal berries on the side.” Have a play with the words and see what you can come up with.

Good words to use are: local, locally produced, fresh, crisp, juicy, tender, low fat, delicious, homemade (only if it really is homemade!), sweet and so on.

4) Use stars

One classic way to attract your customers’ attention is by highlighting certain items either by a frame, colors, stars etc. This will automatically and unconsciously draw the customers’ eyes to that specific point on the menu. So, perhaps your most profitable items need a little star, or maybe you need to put a frame around your awesome dinner deal?

Bonus Tip: Spell check… Always spell check!

To many, this is not one of the important parts of creating a menu. But spelling mistakes can actually lower your credibility and lead your customers away from the courses you want them to buy. So ask someone – or two – to read through your menu to make sure that you won’t be selling steamed crap, dumpings or homemade bee burger.

What is your trick to increase profit?

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Lisa Andersen
Lisa Andersen Content Editor
Part of Planday’s content team in Copenhagen, Lisa is into yoga and loves good writing. Her experience includes working with communication and PR for international grassroots organizations in Argentina and Bolivia.