Menus can have a big impact on your business. Despite what many think, a menu is more than just a regurgitation of prices and products to your customers. Your menu is a marketing piece, an advertising piece, and a sales tool. It takes a lot of time to craft and perfect. That's why when we work with customers, we help them accurately put together a menu that not only clearly defines what you sell but helps push the consumer into the proper buying decision.
Generally, when we consult with stores on their menu architecture, we start with the products. But before we dive into those products specifically, we need to identify our niche. As a business, you can't be everything to everybody, you have to have an identity or niche. Once you've identified your niche or what you want to be known for, we can begin to develop the product and layout the menu to push what we want our identity to be. Your niche will drive the products you offer and the items on the menu.
Flexibility is another key part of creating your menu. It is not good just to have one thing that you can never deviate from. It's better to have the option (flexibility) to add or take away products from the menu. Offers and products may come and go that's why you may not want to throw everything you offer onto the menu right from the beginning. You'll want the options to slide things around.
Don’t overdo it. More products on your menu will not lead to more sales. As we mentioned, you can't be everything to everybody, so keep it simple on the menu. the menu should be reserved for the right items to push and promote, not every product you offer.
Be recipe-driven. This is in line with making things easy for the customer to decide what they're going to get. If you offer too many choices the customer will be overwhelmed and probably just wind up ordering a small cone. Too many options often confuse the consumer and puts them in a state of overwhelm. Create recipe-driven products, whether that be specific sundaes, only using certain candy blend-ins or extras to milkshakes. Don't give them 20 options of toppings and 30 types of blend-ins to choose from. Make the decision for them and they'll be able to point at the item and say "I want that".
Pricing is often a battle for many of our customers. The first rule of pricing is to know your market. If you operate in more of a blue-collar area then you should probably keep your prices a bit more conservative. In higher-income areas or resort areas, you can put your prices a little higher.
Don't be the low-cost leader. Someone who competes at the lowest price can easily be replaced in the market. Don't go into it thinking that you're just going to beat everybody on price and provide a lower price than the competition. Competing on price is a race to the bottom and a reflection of the quality of goods and services you're providing.
Know your margins. This means you need to know what your items cost you so you can figure out what to charge. the worst thing that could happen is that you have all these sales but at the end of the year, you have no money. You need to understand that if you're using higher quality ingredients and products, then you won't be able to match the prices of some of your competitors. You can't give your quality for their price.
Impress with wow. If you're charging a bit more for your creations but also are giving a bit more, customers won't care about the extra price...they care about value.
Layout and design are where you want to clearly communicate your products and pricing. The first rule of thumb is that you want to make it legible. Make sure it is not cluttered, but rather a cleanly designed piece with compartmentalized sections that customers can clearly read without magnifying glasses. Use visuals on the menu to sell and show the products. This is a visual business and the more delicious visuals you can show, the better.
Have a theme. In this industry, we're supposed to be all about fun, so our menu should have a tie-in or theme. Remember, ice cream is a family affair, so make it a fun outing.
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