Pruning Your Menu Can Increase Profits Fast
A longer menu doesn’t necessarily bring in larger profits
The trend is quite the other way. Research shows restaurants in the last few years have been trimming down their menus. That is a natural reaction to rising costs on all fronts.
Most now think they should have been doing even before COVID created havoc in our supply chains. Even before the rising costs of labour and energy too. Menu re-evaluations should be scheduled and simply performed on a regular basis.
There are very good perennial reasons to do this:
– Improve inventory control and management
– Food waste reduction
– Easier to cook by an even thinner kitchen staff
– Better price management
– More ingredients (quantity-wise), with fewer items, allow negotiation with suppliers
Here are a few steps to make this complex process a bit more palatable.
Manage “loss leaders”
Some of your dishes are low-margin, inevitably. But your customers love them. If it draws customers to the restaurant or has a reputation locally, then you need to also re-evaluate your perception of its importance.
What would have happened if you reduced its size, slightly increased its price? Small tweaks. Could that make it more profitable enough to not be a “loss-leader” anymore?
If none of that is possible or not effectual, what other areas of the menu can be trimmed or tweaked to support your loss-leader?
These are some strategic questions you can ask to get going with a process that is usually more complex than most will admit.
Many times we tend to think we are not trying hard enough or are over-thinking it – when it comes to re-adjusting menus. The truth is quite confronting – it’s not us, everyone finds it difficult because it is a complex and strategic task. However, not going through with it, can lead to real despair these days.
The same ingredients can be used in many dishes – or a few. The former helps you with:
– Ordering better
– Better negotiation capabilities with fewer suppliers
– Maintaining freshness of ingredients
That is also because it is easier to manage and keep fewer ingredients fresh – than a large uncoordinated smattering of rarely used ingredients.
Ultimately, this can dramatically reduce food wastage and avoidable financial drains. Good restaurant bookkeepers can assist you with the latter too.
Maximise the seasons
As you have noticed, people crave different things in different seasons. And different items cost less or more depending on the seasons. This adds to the complexity of decision making. Perhaps you will need a spreadsheet. If you don’t know your way around, an accountant can also assist. Or you can turn to apps that help manage the process with greater ease. That is because it can be a daunting task for anyone.
Using recipe software
This is an industry that has exploded recently, providing price points for any business really. Such that the cost of the software is no longer an issue for most. The software can plot live data (e.g. food costs) against your point of sale information. This turns an almost-impossible task into a manageable one very quickly.
For instance, you can now know the exact profit on a dish, even with changing prices of supplies. You can model any menu changes ahead, before having to make a commitment. These apps can plot a forecast for you and tell what your decisions will mean in the future.
It no longer needs to be this manual process. You don’t have to try to remember what ingredients cost over a period of time, or sift through all your paperwork or accounting software to find information. You really don’t have to sit down with a piece of paper and manually add things together to get an accurate estimate. Besides, the apps would likely minimise mistakes too as they are more manageable and user-friendly than the manual way.
These apps used to be “nice-to-have’s” and a small cost easily avoided with dwindling margins. However, markets are constantly changing and prices varying even more wildly. It is now more important than ever to make accurate and intelligent decisions in as many aspects of your business as you can. So, why not use the help? Especially when some of these apps have a very cost-effective starting point.