Is Your Menu Leaving Leftovers on the Table?

Are you looking to squeeze extra pennies of profit from inside your four walls? Do you need to finish Q4 strong or start 2020 with a big lift? Begin with what every guest touches: your menu. Whether it’s suffering from too many guest choices, misplaced pride in a single item, or highlighting options that are killing your kitchen, the majority of menus are in need of an overhaul, some evolution, some revolution. Engineering and architecture are the solution. Yes, you want a beautifully designed menu, but if you’re not thinking of where menu items are to be placed and what makes the most sense to feature, then you’re already steps behind your competition. 

Why Menu Engineering?

To put it simply: menu engineering blends art with math to produce aesthetically pleasing and bottom-line profitable menus for restaurants.

Data experts, designers, and strategists consider how much you’re selling of each item, guests’ eye movement, back-of-house operations, and the menu format in order to make custom recommendations. This happens by harnessing the data you stare at all day and letting those statisticians apply their expertise and knowledge to create a menu that you’re proud of and loves you back.

There is some low-hanging fruit, of course, if your menu hasn’t been touched in a while. Often sifting through the data points reveal quick moves that can add to the bottom line. Is your PMIX spread fairly equally across categories or do you have a category selling better than another? Is there a section or items that sell in high volume but are high margins and kill the kitchen?

And, since you menu is your first impression on guests, you can’t forget about design.

Dressing Up Stats with Design 

Norton Creative CEO Robin Blanchette said, “The goal is to reflect the brand, creating a high-level guest experience while making our clients’ menus more profitable. Our job is to understand what the brand is trying to achieve for its guests in order to have a clear vision for the menu. After receiving the data and establishing profit goals, the Norton design team creates the most effective and unique menu design that can truly grow sales.” 

Collecting typography, colors, styles, and textures for inspiration, our designers use engineering to more strongly represent menu items by highlighting profitable items, utilizing eye movement, and creating beautiful imagery that your guest will respond to.    

Designers keep layout of items, material of the vessel, and guest functionality top of mind throughout the process. By implementing data into the design, creative solutions turn complex numbers into an engaging work of art.

Menus in the Wild

When the team at Buffalo Wild Wings came to Norton Creative, it was with a very familiar menu request: immediately highlight their most profitable items and increase beverage sales. They asked the Norton team to solve profitability opportunities while updating the look and feel of the menus to be in line with the new branding. The result was an updated menu for BDub guests that translated to an immediate lift in adult beverage and wings sales. 

“The work we’ve done with Mellow Mushroom truly is a testament that great design and profitability can live as one,” CCO Deanna Parr noted. “Mellow asked Norton to condense and simplify their current menu format while also reflecting their psychedelic brand style. The customer sentiment results from focus groups and customer intercepts had 94.5% positive guest reaction to the new menu rolls. Initial sales impacts are overwhelmingly positive. We can’t wait to see the menus roll across the Mellow system and see the full impact of this powerful design.”  

“But I’ve Already Got XYZ on My Plate” 

Norton works with all shapes and sizes who are looking to get the most out of their menus. It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-off just starting out or a legacy brand with 500 units, menu engineering works for every restaurant. It makes you as profitable as possible, without massive in-house changes like a total rebrand or interiors overhaul. It may sound like restaurant science fiction, but this can be the relatively quick solution that dramatically sets your restaurant apart.  

The fix is in – menu engineering can successfully transform your menu into a work of art that pays for itself (and then some).

This article was written by Norton Creative. We find solutions for brands big and small, from emerging one-off locations to legacy restaurant brands. We partner with statisticians who have spent a lifetime in the restaurant industry to develop menu engineering.