The Most Influential Marketing Tool for Restaurants

Menu engineering sounds very complicated for most people who aspire to become restaurant owners. Even so, capable restaurant owners have used this technique from time immemorial. Billboards, appetizing food photos and interesting explanations have been an important part of the restaurant experience since time immemorial. In this digital age, the length of time human concentration has decreased. Therefore, the design and marketing strategy for restaurant menus need to be seriously considered if you want to get maximum income and profit.

Restaurant owners always focus on the main menu and mainstay dishes. Menu engineering is not much different, using proven techniques and understanding customer behavior to encourage them to buy expensive dishes or move dishes that don’t sell but are still needed because they can attract customers.

Menus are the main marketing tool for restaurants, so it’s important to maximize their influence. You have to start manipulating the menu when developing a business plan. That way, you can create sample menus to show potential investors, so they can know how serious you are in preparing a business plan.

Your income can increase 15% or more

Menu engineering helps keep food costs balanced and increases the overall number of orders by offering visitors an appetizer, soup, dessert and a la carte menu. According to a study conducted by a leading menu printing company, menu engineering can increase revenue by 15% or more. This advantage applies to menu boards, digital screens, online menus, and special menus such as wine, desserts, etc.

Simple Steps to Start “Engineering” the Menu

The first step starts from analyzing each dish that is on the menu. In essence, you need to analyze expenses, including expenses for employee wages, and determine which menus are (or will be) the most popular and profitable. Determine or group each dish into one of these four categories based on popularity and profit:

Favorable and popular

This one is easy. Dishes included in this category must be placed in the main position on the menu. You can also add spices in the form of a deep and interesting story.

Popular but not profitable

Included in this category are comfort food, which is food that is processed traditionally and has a nostalgic or sentimental appeal. In addition, burgers and fries are also included in this category. However, giant burgers and pizzas tend to fall into the first category because of their advantageous nature. You can use a number of ways to make dishes in this category profitable, such as selling expensive dishes using cheaper ingredients and offering side dishes.


Favorable but not popular

This is where your marketing skills are trained. You can sell dishes in this category as daily or weekly special menus to increase the number of sales.

Unfavorable and Unpopular

You can delete dishes that are included in this category from the menu list if there is no specific reason to keep them. There are always dishes that fall into this category, so consider carefully. Are these dishes made with basic ingredients that are easy to obtain or even need special ingredients? Do the ingredients for the dish rot easily? Does the dish attract influential people? Many dishes for young children fall into this category, but do not need to be removed from the menu list because it is useful to attract customers who invite their families to dine in restaurants.

There are always dishes that don’t sell well and that can’t be avoided. The purpose of the engineering menu is to reduce the distance between the best-selling and least-selling dishes to the minimum.

Group Menu into Multiple Categories

Usually, the menu is grouped into several categories such as beef, poultry, pasta, appetizers, seafood, drinks, desserts, vegetarian dishes, and others. You can also group them into breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Each of these sub-categories need to be further divided into the four previous categories to produce results.

The menu is not only to maximize sales, but also to attract new customers and old customers. Some restaurants have put a menu on the window to attract pedestrians. Most successful restaurants post their menus on other websites and platforms such as on promo sites and review sites and on social media.

Best Design and Placement for Menus

You may have heard the tactic of subtracting a single digit number – for example like selling at a price of Rp. 24,999 instead of Rp. 25,000. This psychological strategy has a point, but tends to be more effective when applied in fast food restaurants and casual restaurants. Other general principles in the engineering menu are:

Starting from the best-selling dish

The main menu tends to attract attention. Some people read all the dishes on the menu, but most of them tend to order the first dish that catches their attention.

Use Descriptions Strategically

Don’t write paragraphs about sashimi if your restaurant doesn’t specialize in sushi cooking. Write a long description of the mainstay cuisine such as Chicken Kremes, Black Pepper Crab, or Spice Ducks. Use words and photos that are appetizing. Mention the brand name used as the main ingredient or explain the cooking technique if it is important. Selling dishes by writing stories.

Avoid columns like in Microsoft Excel

Don’t write down the price list in a column because it can encourage visitors to find the lowest price. Many restaurant owners advise not to write currency symbols, just the nominal value.

The Last Dish on the Menu List Also Gets Attention

The first two or three dishes that appear on the menu list are the ones most often seen by visitors. But after that, most visitors will see the most recent dish. This section is good for dishes that are in one or two categories. You also need to limit the dishes on this list to five or six. Create new sub-categories for other dishes.

Infrastructure Menu Design

Your restaurant menu needs to complement interior design and be in line with the tastes of the target customer. Your restaurant menu can be a single page or several columns with attractive covers. With a one-column menu, customers will more quickly choose the dishes that they want to order. This design is good if what you are after is fast turnover. The two column menu is the most popular because you can more freely display dishes. With a large menu design, visitor choices are more difficult to control; even so, the two-column design is still effective when applied to menus with many pages.

The Dangers When The Most Expensive Dish Looks Striking

If there is one expensive dish whose price differs greatly from other dishes, don’t make it as a main dish because visitors can consider the price of food in your restaurant too expensive.

Use Enough Columns

Although there is a possibility that it is more difficult to control, you still need to use enough columns to display all dishes well. If necessary, you can use a two-column design to display an appetizer and two other pages to display the main and dessert dishes.

Use Photos

You can photograph dishes in your restaurant in high quality to increase sales by up to 30%.

Marketing Initiative

Use your creativity to increase sales of dishes that fall into three or four categories. Dishes in this category can be sold as daily specials or as bonuses.

Don’t Be Left Behind Today’s Restaurant Trends

Your restaurant menu needs to be changed if there are new dishes that are popular or vice versa. Revenues and expenses will also change over time, so you need to update the menu regularly.

Tips for Recommending Dishes

You need to teach staff about the menu at your restaurant, so they can recommend the right dishes to visitors. For example, new customers should be given recommendations in the form of popular dishes because they are likely to be liked by them. Meanwhile, long-time customers who often order popular dishes can be advised to try dishes that are included in the profitable but not popular categories.

You can give bonus food that is not too expensive to increase the overall number of visitors. Your restaurant staff can have more time to interact with visitors if they can order easily via mobile or tablet using the POS application that is portable and easy to learn.

With the menu, you can guide visitors to order more appropriate food while providing information in the form of culinary culture, nutritional content, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of cooking techniques used by your restaurant. Therefore, the menu is the most valuable non-human resource.

In the restaurant business, there are some things that cannot be controlled continuously such as operational costs, rent, equipment, insurance, and expenses for staff wages. Even so, with a well-designed and promoted menu, you can increase revenue and attract customers, both old and new customers.