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7 Signs Your Restaurant Menu Needs an Upgrade

Modernize your menu to stay on top of the latest trends.

Have you had the same menu for years? It may be time to change it. As trends and tastes change and grow, some restaurant owners find that adapting their menu can boost their profits.

There are many ways to upgrade your menu. You can change the items, but you can also change the look of your menu and your descriptions. Creativity is key when making over your restaurant menu.

You’ll find many benefits to updating and upgrading your menu. In this article, we look at seven signs your restaurant menu needs an upgrade.

#1: Your Food Costs Change

Prices change from year to year and sometimes from month to month. If you’re analyzing your food costs on a regular basis, you may notice that your menu items and prices aren’t keeping up with food costs.

If this is the case, and your menu is reducing your profits, it may be time to change it.

How do you know? First, calculate the cost of each dish. Then, do a little detective work on food waste. If you’re wasting too much on a particular dish, or the cost is too high, you may want to revise your menu.

At the very least, you want to compare vendor prices and then decide on your menu.

#2: Your Menus Are Dirty

This is an easy sign it’s time to change up your menu. If your menus are dirty and you simply can’t clean them anymore, it’s time for an upgrade.

While you’re doing this, it’s a great time to conduct a menu audit and decide which items should go and whether to add new ones.

Your menus say a lot about your restaurant’s overall cleanliness. Make sure your menus reflect quality and aren’t dirty.

#3: Customers Aren’t Ordering a Menu Item

A regular menu audit is a great way to uncover your best sellers and your duds.

For example, if you decide to compare the items on your menu with how often they are ordered, you may find that you have dishes that hardly anyone ever orders. Yet, you keep the ingredients on hand, which costs you money.

If customers aren’t regularly ordering a menu item, you are losing money with this dish on your menu. It’s time to either eliminate the item, lower the price of it, or replace it with something slightly different.

#4: Your Menus are Outdated

Another sign it’s time for an upgrade occurs if your menu is outdated. This may mean the design is outdated, the dishes are outdated, or both.

You want to keep up with new trends and tastes, and as you create new dishes to cater to these trends, you need to update your menu.

It’s a good idea to refresh your dishes to keep your customers coming back and excited about your restaurant. For example, the farm-to-table movement is quite popular, so you might want to upgrade your menu to reflect the trend. (tweet this)

In addition, the design of your menu may look like it’s stuck in the 1990s. If so, it’s definitely time to upgrade it.

Upgrading your menu can help you improve your profit margins.

#5: Customers’ Tastes are Changing

Palates are unique, and they change often. You want to listen to your customers and really hear what they’re saying about your dishes.

You don’t want to lose them to your competition, so really listening helps you learn what your customers are looking for. You can also do some internet research to see what’s popular and trending. Experiment with your own new dishes and get customer feedback.

While you want to stay true to your restaurant’s concept, it pays to adapt to the times so you can stay ahead of your competition. Or you can get really bold and set trends all on your own!

#6:  Menu Items Show a Loss

Grab your annual sales report from your point of sale system (POS). Take a look at the menu items that people consistently order. These are your restaurant favorites. Next, look at the menu items that generate the most revenue. They may not be the most ordered, but the price is perfect, and enough people order them that they are high revenue generators.

Third, you want to make a list of the items from most sold to least sold.

Now, you want to look at the food costs for your various dishes. Do they show a profit or a loss?

Your POS system can do the heavy lifting for you and provide the best reports to help you identify your actual costs versus revenue.

The solution is simple. If it costs more to prepare the dishes than the price you sell them for, it’s time to get rid of them.

Spend some time figuring out the profitability of each menu item so you know which to keep and which to drop.

Since you are refreshing your menu, this is the perfect time to decide whether you need to raise prices.

#7: You Can’t Maintain Your Margins

On the topic of profitability, you want to make sure you can maintain your profit margins.

The biggest reason you may have issues is due to food costs and waste.

Analyze your menu to decide if you can improve your menu margins while maintaining the quality of your food. Solutions may include researching new food vendors, reducing portion sizes, and raising menu prices.

If your margins are shrinking, your menu is the likely culprit, and it’s time for an upgrade.

Final Thoughts on Your Menu Upgrade

Now that you know the seven signs your restaurant menu needs an upgrade, you may wonder how often to do this.

Conduct an audit of your menu prices, dishes, food costs, portion sizes, and trends at least once a year. At this time, you also want to look at your overall sales so you can see what sells well. (tweet this)

Once you do this, you are ready to upgrade your menu. Consider refreshing it at least once per year. Updating your menu frequently keeps it fresh and trendy while also ensuring that your menu prices are in line with what your food actually costs you.

In addition, decide if you need to reduce the size of your overall menu. Quantity may need to give way to quality and top-producing items.

Today’s restaurants see trends that are constantly evolving. Take advantage of these trends as you update your menu, market your new menu, and watch your profits rise.

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Images: Jessie McCall and Natasha Kapur on Unsplash

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