How to Make Menu Engineering Work

Do you know what the number-one sales tool is in your restaurant? It's your menu. And menu design is critical. Watch this video, or continue scrolling to read, to learn about the key things you need to have to be successful with menu engineering.

About Menu Design and Menu Engineering

Your menu is critical to your restaurant's success. In fact, if you can control your menu, you can adjust your cost of goods sold without giving up guest satisfaction, without cutting quality on the products you serve, without raising your prices. But there are a couple things you have to have in place to adjust your menu for a lower cost of goods sold.

To make your menu engineering effective, you have to have two things in place:

Number one is accurate recipe costing cards. They need to be up to date in pricing, ingredients, measurements and portions. You can do them by hand, in a spreadsheet or in a fancy software (software is great because it automates the process and ensures your recipe costing cards are accurate - but it's not mandatory), accurate recipe costing cards are critical to menu design. Without them, you are throwing your profitability away to what I call dumb-ass luck. If you don't have recipe costing cards, you don't really know which items you should be merchandising, and you could lose money faster instead of make more money.

Next you need to use the product mix report from your POS system. This is also known as the daily sales report, PMIX report, velocity report and item-by-item sales report - whatever you call it. Every item you sell on a daily basis is listed on this report. When you have this information - what you sold, how many you sold, and what you sold it for - you can come up with your ideal food cost. This is the food cost you'd have if you had no waste, no theft, no spoilage, a perfect restaurant. Your ideal food cost is a key component in managing your budget, your ordering, your profits.

If you have this data, you can impact your bottom line by 3-7 percentage points the first time you do it. This is with the same items and the same customers. This is because you would know where to increase prices and where not to, where to put items on your menu to increase their sales and your cash contribution, if you understood which pictures to include or which items to box for emphasis, you can take control of your business.

Pro Tip: When you have these two things in place - recipe costing cards and your PMIX report - you should find a professional to help you with your menu design fixes. And look for a company that uses data, such as that on your PMIX report, to guide the menu engineering process and end design. Avoid the company that asks you what your top money-making items are - that's not menu engineering.

You can use menu engineering to improve your bottom line.

If you would like to learn more about the importance of systems and how to run a restaurant, read our free special report, Is Your Food Distributor Screwing You? 5 Things You Can Do Now to Lower Food Cost. Download it here. Be sure to visit my YouTube channel for more helpful restaurant management video tips.

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