This post is part of a series to help you build a winning menu that will engage with your customers, assist your team and most importantly, drive your bottom line.
You most probably have a menu in use in your restaurant. You may even be very proud of that menu because it has been a labour of love. Good for you. Or you may have put something quick together as you dealt with consultants and contractors trying to get open on time, promising yourself to come back and improve it. Good, do it now.
In any case, I want you to take a long hard look at your menu and start to think about it in detail. If someone has NEVER been in your restaurant before, what is this menu saying from the second they get it placed in their hands (or read it on the blackboard; or click it online). Is it beautifully weighted, to match the tablecloths? Is it brightly coloured to reflect the buzz of the place? Is it desktop-printed to reflect the freshness of the daily specials? Every menu is different, but they all have the same objective: to grab your customer’s attention and convince them that they have chosen the right place for spending as much as they can afford on this visit.
So where do you begin? The first thing I like to do is put myself in the chair of the customer. Things look awfully different from this perspective. You start to ask yourself, as a customer would, Why have I chosen this restaurant? Who owns this place? Who is serving me? (It could be the owner or is it part of a bigger chain.), Who’s cooking my food? What made you guys open this place? And now get someone to hand you your menu. How does it feel? What does it say about you as a customer? Do you feel valued by this business?
Now, ask yourself this: where on your menu does it answer all these questions? This is where I think there’s an opportunity to ‘sell your story’. Raymond Blanc does it at Le Manoir. Peter Boizot did it at Pizza Express. Even Nandos do it.
And they’re all pretty successful, so do YOU put an introduction on your menu? You know, something like...
“Welcome to Peaches & Cream Restaurant, My husband Renoir and I had a vision of growing our own organic fruit and vegetables and thought wouldn’t it be fun to have a place where our friends could come over to taste the latest produce. Our Chef Antonio is passionate about letting the ingredients stand out in every dish he cooks. And don’t forget to leave some room for dessert. We wish you Bon Appetit, Candice”
Suddenly, I feel I’ve just had a conversation with Candice…. She’s married to Renoir (is he French?…). They grow organic fruits and vegetables; Wow, how idyllic. It must taste amazing. They mention friends, so they must be popular. And they opened this for them? What a generous couple. Chef Antonio... nice name, sounds Italian - wonder if he looks like Antonio Banderos? Hey, perhaps the pasta is good. Simple food, the way I like it. Hmmm, 'leave some room for some dessert’ … interesting. I love dessert. I wonder if peaches and cream are on the menu? Bon Appetit? Why, thank you Candice. This is going to be a real TREAT!
So many assumptions based on such a short intro. But most importantly of all, you have moved the value proposition AWAY from cost and made it an emotional one. In other words you sell the sizzle, not the steak.
By sharing your story, you put your guest at ease and invite them in. Now they’re thinking ‘I’m going to browse this menu and see what else I can learn about my new-found friends. I’m starving…’ Now it’s time to bring on a very under-utilised sales opportunity: nibbles while you browse. Check in with my next post to find out more.