2012 March: Ask Big Dave

I haven’t updated my menu in a couple of years except for price adjustments. Is it worth it to pay a professional company to do this for me?

Austin Rodigero
Phoenix, Arizona

I’m rarely stopped dead in my tracks. A few years ago, however, I did a double-take as I passed an exhibitor’s booth at International Pizza Expo. It was setup day, and I was getting a sneak-peak at what attendees would see on the show floor. This particular booth showcased menus and flyers that were stunning in layout, design, photography and professionalism. It was eye candy for me.

Too often, restaurant menus are uninspired price lists. That’s a shame, because your menu is a powerful marketing and sales tool. Analyzing and costing out your menu is part of the equation; designing it smartly brings it all full circle.

A well-thought-out menu design will bring about sales increases, sometimes in the double-digits. The key is to produce classy, eye-catching pieces that convey your quality, brand and image.

Remember, your menu is a marketing piece. Its performance should be scrutinized the same way you critique the results generated by your flyers, newspaper ads, door hangers, etc.

Perception is reality in your customers’ eyes. If your menu looks amateurish and boring, your guests will unconscientiously think your operation is amateurish and boring. If it sizzles with color, photos, stories and mouth-watering descriptions of your entrées … Well, you get the picture.

Many of my single-unit clients have been asked if they were part of a larger franchise company because of how refined their image happens to be. Trust me, putting a pretty face on your current menu will do good things to your top line sales. Menus are like pizzeria managers — they are either moneymakers or money losers. Pretty menus coupled with current and updated data, and backed up with period reports, are guaranteed to generate gobs of new cash you may be leaving on the table today. Get started!

Big Dave Ostrander owned a highly successful independent pizzeria before becoming a consultant, speaker and internationally sought-after trainer. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.