December 9, 2013 |

Give Your Menu Muscle

By Dave Ostrander

menusYour menu can’t simply be a price list. People who focus on cost don’t focus on buying. To turn your menu into a selling machine, you need to give it muscle by using it to create demand for your most profitable dishes. How? With strategic and proper placement of photos, boxes, descriptions, etc.

Did you know that your menu is the perfect place to tell your story? Your story is what separates your pizzeria from every other one on the planet.  If you can’t explain why your pizza is better and different than your worst competitor, then it all boils down to who has the lowest price.

Really profitable menus are a work of art, as well as research. Every menu entrée is in competition with every other offering in the same category. Every salad is competing with every other salad for sales. Not all salads or pizzas generate the same amount of profit. Well-engineered menus subtly direct the customer to the most profitable options in every category. Sometimes the entrée with the highest food cost generates the largest gross profit per unit sale. If you spend one complete day this month compiling a few basic facts of which offerings are the most (as well as least) profitable and popular, your next menu will make you incredible profits.

Once you know which items are your stars and which ones just aren’t cutting it, it’s time to remove the losers and try out some new recipes (see the menu guide beginning on page 48 for plenty of options). Not every item on your menu can be a star, but there’s no sense keeping a poor performer on board. Trial and error is how you figure out what items belong and which dishes simply don’t have a place in your business regardless of how tasty they are or how personally attached to them you happen to be.

Your menu is the best marketing tool you’ll ever have. When a customer sits down and looks at it, you already know a sell is going to be made. The question is this: will that customer order a profitable dish or an item that is very popular but doesn’t necessarily fill up your bank account?

Evaluate each and every item on your menu today, then use this month’s menu guide to build new offerings for 2014.

Big Dave Ostrander owned a highly successful independent pizzeria before becoming a contributor to Pizza Today.