Menu Planning

Menu planning is an important marketing tool, critical to freshen your brand image to customers, add new items, and replace stagnant items. Menu design tools also enable you to highlight signature items and stimulate extra business. Periodic menu review also forces menu item cost analysis which is critical to increasing both revenue and profits.

New items on a menu are a versatile tool in driving incremental sales and improving profits. New items with special short-term pricing can be instrumental in gaining new customers. A successful trial by a new customer may turn them into “regulars”. Adding new items on a menu freshens menu choice and may encourage your “regulars” to come back more frequently. Add-on items like appetizers, sides, and desserts can boost sales. Success depends on what you add, how you market the items, and the training you provide employees on how to sell them.

For the biggest impact think about market trends in your area. Nationally, gourmet toppings add a WOW factor, while descriptors such as local, natural, organic, and low-carb each appeal to a subset of potential customers. When planning new items think about current trends: low carb, gluten-free, high-fiber, ethnic flavors, and low fat. In development, taste and appearance and presentation are equally important. Rotating items can determine what works best for your operation. Since independent restaurant’s long-term success depends on building repeat local customers, active support of local schools and sports teams also motivates customer loyalty. Think about your customers and what appeals to them. Ask your customers for suggestions. Visit trend setting competitors.

A simple strategy focuses on using existing ingredients in a new way. Offer gourmet mushrooms, caramelized onions, or fire roasted garlic as toppings in addition to fresh. Unique sausage and pepperoni toppings also can be used to spice up your menu. Items such as “cup and char” and “hand-pinched” can significantly improve both appearance and flavor. You may be able to charge a higher price for “premium” toppings. Use pizza and sandwich ingredients to create a great salad or appetizer. Add a new style of pizza; Neapolitan, Chicago, Detroit. Just make sure they have some “oomph” by having good eye appeal and taste great.

Trying new ingredients from your Delco Foods Sales Representative offers another opportunity for trial and building your business with new, interesting, and diverse options. Think about adding items from different categories like entrées, appetizers, sides, salads, and desserts. Items can be made from scratch or purchased needing minimal preparation.

Limited time items, priced aggressively, usually draw in new customers. A dynamic item can be cycled periodically and marketed as “Back by Popular Demand” so it doesn’t get stale. Take advantage of seasonal pricing and demand. Items like wings, soups, hearty pastas all have strong seasonality. Tailor short-term items to big events and holidays. Talk to your Delco Foods Sales Representative about ingredients that may be on promotion.

When you add new items there are two important considerations. One is sales dollars and the other is profit. A slower selling item with a higher margin over cost might yield more profit per item, but if you don’t sell many the total profit might be low. On the other hand, an item with lower profit per unit might generate more profit if you can sell more of them. Each has its own place. Picking items that have the right balance between sales dollars and profits is important.

Think of a popular category that may be new to you. For example, pasta is a simple easy to handle item with many premium prepared options. Years ago, the largest pizza chain in the U.S. did not serve pasta; now it’s a 2 billion dollar a year item. The same with “stuffed” pizza. Why not add a new non-traditional item? Ethnic foods and flavors make great ingredients whether used as pizza toppings, in sauces, or entrees. Use your imagination.

Sides, appetizers, salads, desserts, and beverages all help to build sales while appealing to potential customers that may not be focused on pizza. Add an additional item and watch profits grow! If you’re not featuring something from each of these categories, you’re missing the boat. An entrée salad can be an attractive option to customers looking for a healthy option. All you need is greens with an attractive assortment of vegetables, grilled chicken, and a killer dressing. Jazz up your side salad. Desserts are a great addition, whether you make your own, buy from a local bakery or use the wide assortment available from your Delco Foods Sales Representative.

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