This blog originally appeared on the Swipely blog. Visit Swipely to find additional insights and content for restaurant operators, to help you make better decisions and grow your business.
Shifting menu trends in the restaurant industry mean that you must continually evaluate and update your menu. How do you update your menu and remain profitable if you don’t know which items are most profitable and in-demand and which ones you should cut?
Understanding the menu trends is only part one of the battle. You also need the tools to evaluate your menu on a daily basis.
1- Prepare For Menu Trends
Now is the time to prepare for next year. Your restaurant menu may undergo drastic changes – or perhaps it’s already ready to go. Either way, here are 3 trends you should be sure to include in 2016.
Locally Sourced… Everything
From farmers markets to artisanal cheeses, it seems we can’t get away from the fact that customers are demanding locally sourced food.
In the last 10 years, farmers markets have grown 350% and over 50% of consumers preference local over organic. The local food movement is here and it’s claiming its seat at the table for the long haul. Whether it’s hyper-local ingredients such as herbs and garden grown vegetables or sustainable seafood and locally sourced meats, the lust for local foods is widespread.
“Healthier Options, Please”
You’ve heard of “friends with benefits” but how about “foods with benefits”? It should come as no surprise that if consumers are demanding locally sourced foods they’re also more health conscious than ever before. They want their food to taste good and be good for them.
One word for your menu and the healthy food trend: fresh. What does it imply? Real food.
Breakfast… All Day Long
Mom always said breakfast was the most important meal of the day. But for the savvy restaurateur, it’s also the most important meal for your bottom line. The National Restaurant Association says 72% of US adults wish that restaurants served breakfast all day long. And the best restaurants are responding accordingly.
Breakfastarians – those who crave breakfast morning, noon and night – have been on the rise in the last year, and the trend will only continue.
2- Evaluate Your Restaurant Menu
When it comes to your restaurant menu, you’ve made a lot of well-thought out decisions. You may believe that you know which items your guests enjoy best and what is the most cost-effective way to produce these selections, but with an analytical eye and the appropriate data, you’d be surprised at what you can find.
To understand how effective a menu item is, Swipely created a formula (based on our experiences working with 3,000+ local merchants) for evaluating restaurant menu items and their benefit to your business, in terms of creating loyal repeat customers.
Using this formula, now you can can truly engineer your menu for success. Read more about using the data in your restaurant here.
3- Talk To Your Guests
With all of the focus on technology in our society, sometimes we forget that word of mouth and interpersonal conversations are the best ways to gain insight and learn. As the evening draws to a close, stop by the tables of your guests – loyal regulars and newbies included. Ask them: “What was your favorite dish tonight?” and “What would you love to see on our menu?”.
You don’t have to take every suggestion to heart, but you may learn something great!