You may wonder, what’s all the fuss about menus? Any restaurant owner or manager will tell you a menu is the very first impression a customer gets when they walk into the restaurant. Forget the food and the heavily cushioned seats; the menu speaks to the customer first.

Designing a menu that communicates the types of food that are offered simplifies the customer’s purchase process. Over the years, menus have been revised and revisited to try and give the customer a better experience each time they visit your restaurant.

Research has shown that a menu can influence up to 56% of customers. About 74% of customers also reported the need to have an easy to read menu as a top priority. These simple statistics communicate the need to have a working menu if you want to attract customers to your business.

But why do many menus underperform? One primary reason why these menus underperform is that they are strategically weak. They do not incorporate the business objectives or take into consideration how their customers actually use the menu boards.

Effective menu boards use a structured, analytical approach that is more than just graphics to drive their point home. Without this, it will be a waste of excellent resources that could be used elsewhere. To understand how to do this, there are seven things you need to acquaint yourself with.
Facts that will help you come up with the best menu board
  1. Influence the hotspots – The hotspots are those areas that the customers tend to look at first and more frequently when they glance at a menu. This is where your bestselling, high-priority and highest margin menu items appear. Hotspots on the interior of a menu board should be different from those on the exterior and catchier areas. This can vary depending on how the customers line up and where the original order desk is located. The power of hotspots can only be experienced by the results of your sales.
  2. Evaluate the real estate – For your menu board to get the best attention from customers all over, you ought to determine the ideal space that is devoted to it. Your best selling items and your high dollar items should get more space on the menu board. This is a kind of sight that is quickly seen when the customer soon glances at the menu. Shift your menu items around from time to time to look at the effects of each product. Doing this will help you understand what things need more space and which ones sell even without being on the top of the list. 
  3. The location of your menu board – Many people are carried away by the strategic menu board layout that is mostly given first priority. But they forget the importance of the location of the menu. Once you notice what items need a push to sell on your menu, then you will allow them to get a more prominent position that helps them sell. 
  4. Launch, sustain and pamper the essentials – These three steps give you an ideal strategy to deal with the menu boards. 
  5. Launch: Allow space to introduce new items on your menu. Establishing a designated area on the menu board just for new products is essential as it helps customers get the idea of looking for a new item every time. Seasonal items should also be placed in this designated area.
  6. Sustain: After a successful launch of the new products, there needs to be a place on the menu where the item will still be clearly seen. Optimize your menu by deleting things that are not popular and leaving those that sell. This gives prominence to the best products on your menu.
  7. Pamper the essential – The product that drives your business needs to be put into consideration and given the topmost priority in the space. Do not compromise these items just because of a new thing that you want to be added to the list. These core items should be the heroes of the menu board occupying the space and locational prominence as we have seen above. 

Think like a customer – You will never reach your customers if you do not put yourself in their shoes. Menu board designs should reflect how your customers order their meals, not just a compilation of dishes. Your item offering order should be in sync with the customers’ ordering sequence. This way, you will reach the customer’s heart. 

Brand it – Not just the logo but every other aspect of your business that involves the customer, especially the menu board. A customer can trust your work by seeing your branding proudly displayed on the menu. Remember, do not get carried away by designs and graphic details and forget the simplicity and ease of use. Your customer wants something neat and easy to interact with. 

Karen is a Business Tech Analyst. She is very responsible for her job. She loves to share her knowledge and experience with her friends and colleagues.