Can you remember the last time you got really excited about a new creation on your menu? Or was it on another restaurant’s menu, perhaps even a competitor’s?
I was having a water cooler conversation with some non-foodie friends recently, and the subject was how they were bored to death when they dined out. It seems that a restaurant in my town is having a 10-year anniversary. It’s said that the menu is exactly the same as it was the day they opened. Right down to the soup du jour. The food is fantastic, but the menu is predictable. Once you have eaten your way through it several times, you get bored. I don’t look for a change in this place. It’s obviously working for them, especially in a town with a shrinking population and 22- percent unemployment.
On the other side of the spectrum, I just about fell off my La-Z-Boy when I watched the television commercial in which a huge pizza chain announced that they had re-engineered their pizza from the bottom up for the first time in 50 years. Their customer focus groups stated cruel things about the quality of the old product, so they did what every company would do: gamble hundreds of millions of dollars –– literally their entire future –– on new and improved. They didn’t even give themselves a safety net like Coca-Cola did with the New Coke fiasco.
When is the last time you gave them something to talk about? Your competition is. Your customers may be bored enough to try another place in town.
You would be wise to research, steal, modify, rip-off, reverse engineer, enhance or create some brand new menu items. Break your menu down into small pieces. Do a food cost and menu engineering report. Kill off the duds. Add brand new, delicious, exciting offerings in their place. Get creative. Keep on breaking it until you make it. I’m your customer … astound me. Please. ?
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 and leads seminars on operational topics for the family of Pizza Expo tradeshows.