The Importance of Regular Menu Revamping
One of the most stressful decisions you as a restaurant owner can make is the decision to revamp your menu. With rising costs of business and the effects of inflation, it’s virtually impossible to maintain the same menu prices forever. It’s not only advised but also necessary to adjust costs based on changing economic times in order to maintain a profit and stay afloat in an increasingly expensive and competitive market.
An overarching fear you may have about raising prices is driving customers away. With an increase in prices, customers must be upset and will take their business elsewhere. However, that is not the truth. Despite inflation, diners are still eating out frequently despite higher costs and expenses. It has been repeatedly shown that increasing prices to stay afloat in times of inflation does not drive customers away: loyal customers stay loyal and don’t leave at a price hike and potential new customers don’t have a frame of reference for your previous prices to begin with. Your customer base is loyal to you because of what you provide and not necessarily the cost of what they order.
Another fear ingrained in changing menus is the perceived cost in upgrading physical menus. How do you get around that? There are several options, all of which are in use now at various restaurants. One such replacement is a digital media board for your menu. This works in a similar way as a chalkboard menu, except it displays a digital version of your menu. The benefits of such an option is the ease in editing your menu if something is out of stock or updates need to happen, and it saves on printing costs. Compared to a chalkboard, it’s neater and more professional looking.
Another option is recyclable paper menus. Instead of laminated, bulky menus that are difficult to update (and even more difficult to keep clean), paper menus allow for corrections to be made easily: simply reprint the corrected menu and recycle the old as needed. It also allows you to write on the menu in pen, which is helpful for temporarily out of stock items or limited time discounts. If you’d rather not pay for a digital media board or frequent high-end menu printing, or simply want to remain as environmentally friendly as possible, an option quickly rising in popularity is a scannable menu.
Scannable menus use QR codes, usually located on tables, or table-top displays to access an e-version of the restaurant menu. A customer simply has to scan the code with their phone and they have the correct menu immediately, with no hassle on your end to make sure menus are stocked and everything is accurate. With a digital file, making corrections is a breeze and the menu can be updated same-day in most cases. It’s far cheaper and much more sustainable than traditional menus, paper menus, or digital media boards, though it isn’t a good option for locations with poor cell service and it may be necessary to keep a small supply of paper menus for guests who don’t have a smartphone.
In addition to raising prices, a good way to revamp your menu is through LTOs (limited time offers). Though most customers have their favorite menu items, introducing seasonal offerings or new specials is a great way to reach new customers. For example, offering up some traditional Irish food in March taps into St. Patrick’s Day, the innate curiosity for something new and exciting, and provides an opportunity to introduce new customers to your eatery. There’s no need to replace a dish with corned beef and cabbage, but providing it as an option alongside your usual food gives customers a new choice and also allows for them to choose consistency over novelty.
You may also find that making simple ingredient changes can do a lot towards refreshing your offerings. Paying attention to trends, such as clean eating, and altering recipes accordingly may result in more popularity and higher customer satisfaction. Word-of-mouth reviews and specific marketing of new ingredients can boost sales and draw in new customers. Starbucks altered its Pumpkin Spice Latte in a similar way: instead of artificial pumpkin flavoring, the new recipe has real pumpkin in its syrup. This is a nod to the consumer trend of favoring whole foods over artificial foods, but it doesn’t come without some backlash. Altering dish ingredients can also result in a more negative opinion of your food: some customers prefer the tried-and-true, even if it’s slightly unhealthier. It’s a risk-benefit analysis you must undertake and requires an understanding of your customer preferences and local opinions. Though menu revamping aims to keep your customer base while drawing in new customers, major changes may drive away both.
Despite initial fears, revamping your restaurant menu and raising prices is a good thing. Loyal customers want you to stay in business, which is a difficult feat if your prices don’t keep up with economic trends and inflation. It’s important to regularly review your prices and compare them to your revenue to see if it’s time to make a change. If you’re ready to update your menu, talk to your sales representative. We’re here to help you make the most of your menu and build your business.