Checklist for Planning a Menu

26 Feb

Here’s a list of considerations to review for each dish as they come up for evaluation at that critical point when it’s time to evolve the menu. So often managers forget to do one or more of these diligences when they are redesigning their menu. The menu is the key tool in driving sales and profits.

1) Menu Costing.
Any item that is being evaluated for either continuing, removing, replacing, or – in the case of new items – adding, a costing needs to be performed. This will help clarify the recipe and whether the item is economically viable.
2) Price Points.
Considering what the customer is willing to pay is integral to any successful food service business. Ask how each item will serve the public and how feasible it is to meet THEIR price point.
3) Ingredient Consolidation.
One of the most common errors in menu planning is the one-ingredient one-dish dilemma. Your sales are great but you’re constantly in danger of serving up some slimy ingredients because several of your slow movers have the one-dish problem. Your sales goals might be getting met but you have to deal with an irate customer three times a month because they bit into something rancid. Make sure your ingredients are used enough and in enough dishes.
4) POS Report on item sales.
Discontinuing or keeping a dish should never be determined emotionally. It is a question of numbers. Items that are lagging way behind in sales are best discontinued in favor of items that have a reasonable chance to sell. The objective is to drive sales higher by eliminating frogs and replacing them with potential princes.
5) Logistics.
Dishes that involve multiple steps to prepare better be driving sales higher. Difficult-to-produce items have to sell better than easier items to prepare. If it’s a pain in the butt and doesn’t pay a salary, kill it. The inverse is that if a plate is easy to produce and guaranteed popular, throw it onto the menu already.
6) Is this item a good idea?
What is our purpose with this item? What customer profile type is going to order this item? In short, this is the consideration of the public awareness of your brand. Included in this consideration is how one is going to sell the dish on the menu. Does it have a marketing hook?

Last, I’ve always found limiting the printed menu as a good idea while saving dishes with uncertain sales futures as frequent guests on the Specials Board. Specials are a good way of letting the clientele base know what kind of creative energy you have behind your brand.

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