Busy bars, fine-dining restaurants, quick-service cafes and every hospitality concept in between all have one thing in common—a menu. Regardless of your business model, your menu is the bridge between you and your customers.
It goes without saying that any menu should be clear, informative, and representative of your overall brand. However, a good menu should do more. With the right tools, you can transform a basic list of items and prices into a powerful, profit-boosting asset.
The secret lies in menu engineering.
Take a look at how Craftable allows you to optimize your menu to work just as hard as your team does to boost sales and sell profitable items:
Know Your Menu as Well as Your Regulars
Chances are, you’re a master at remembering details regarding your guests’ preferences. Whether it’s their go-to drink order, their favorite table, or that they have a severe peanut allergy, you know that paying attention is a key to success.
The same concept applies when it comes to your menu.
Even if you know every ingredient, it’s not enough unless you know what sells—and which items turn a profit. Menu engineering is based on the idea that every dish falls into one of the following categories:
- Stars: These items represent the perfect combination of popularity and profitability. Not only do your guests love them, but the margins are high enough to keep your pocketbook happy, too. As is often the case in the restaurant world, the more stars, the better!
- Plowhorses: These dishes are popular, but the ingredients are too expensive to truly boost your bottom line. If guests are giving your plowhorse items rave reviews, the best course of action is usually to find a way to make preparation cost less.
- Puzzles: Puzzles are items that are profitable, but that don’t sell well. They’re called puzzles because in order to drive sales, you need to figure out why these dishes aren’t popular with your guests. Issues like your floor staff’s descriptions, menu price, and even taste can all prove to be answers.
- Dogs: Costly items that don’t sell well are called dogs, and they can seriously drag down your menu. Not only do dogs take up valuable real estate, but continuously ordering (and paying for) ingredients that rarely leave the walk-in is bad for business.
Cratable’s menu engineering functionality allows you to view both plate costs and sales, which takes the guesswork out of identifying which category your offerings fall into. Since we integrate with most POS systems, you won’t have to waste time plugging items into our software.
Modifications are Part of the Job
Unless your restaurant has a strict ‘no substitutions’ policy, you’re used to adapting and accommodating based on your guests’ preferences and needs. Craftable’s menu engineering tools allow you to view the true costs of modified dishes, and then make changes as needed. For example, the cost of allowing guests to swap a side of fries for a side salad might necessitate an upcharge.
You can view your items’ performance by category or meal period, which means you can get a holistic view on which items to promote, push, or 86—at breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner. While there’s definitely merit in asking your servers and bartenders which items sold well—or which dishes had customers cleaning their plates—there’s no substitute for data that provides insight with accurate, key metrics.
Just like keeping your customers waiting too long for their entrees can be detrimental, waiting too long to evaluate your menu can also have serious consequences. Our software allows you to view data in real-time, so you’ll always have access to critical information when you need it.
Knowledge is Always in Stock—Even When Your Ingredients Aren’t
Although your dining room might be looking a little more normal these days, the supply chain is still being seriously impacted by the pandemic. This instability means that you can’t always get the ingredients you need, and prices fluctuate widely when you can.
As a result, many restaurants are offering pared-down menus, and relying on fewer dishes to get by. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, 63% of fine dining operators and about half of casual and family dining operators reported having fewer items on the menu than they did before the pandemic.
Menu engineering tools are even more important when you’re only offering a limited selection of drinks or dishes. No dogs at the table!
Engineering Helps You Build a Better Menu
The best part about your menu is that it isn’t set in stone. Using menu engineering to optimize your menu will set your entire business up for success. It’s the first key step in the complex chain of events that needs to occur for your restaurant to prosper. At Craftable, we help you build a better menu, so you can rest assured that the foundation your business is built upon is as unshakable as the hospitality industry.