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How Effective Is Your Restaurant Menu? (Data Knows)

This post originally appeared on the Swipely Blog, by Theresa Navarra.  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 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 which ones you should 86?

According to the NRA, the top 4 menu trends you must prepare for are: Going Local, Going Green, Going Health Conscious, and Going All Natural. “Great, now does that mean I have to completely revamp my menu?”

Yes.. and no.

Restaurant Menu Decisions Are Not One And Done

When it comes to your restaurant menu, you’ve already made a lot of well-thought out decisions about its contents. 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.

How Well Do You Know Your Menu?

Sure, you may sell a lot of a particular menu item, but does that mean guests come back to your restaurant because of it?

To understand how effective a menu item is, we’ve 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.

Benefits Of The Menu Score

The result of this formula will give each menu item an index score, most between 30 and 200. There tends to be a lot of variability in menu items. But that’s okay! No insight is wasted when it comes to building customer loyalty.

  • A score of 100 is your average menu item
  • A menu item that scores 123 will be 23% more valuable to your business than an average menu item
  • A menu item that scores an 87 will be 13% less valuable to you than an average menu item

What Can You Do With This Information?

Knowing is only half the battle, right? Now that you have an in-depth understanding of how your menu items perform, you can start making better business decisions that lead to more profitable menus.

But that’s not all…

  1. Train Your Staff: Improve staff performance when you train your staff on which items have the highest index scores and are best for the restaurant (and them!) Increased sales and increased repeat business means increased tips, right?!
  2. Provide Profitable Recommendations: If you offer two fish choices, a striped bass that scores a 130 and a salmon that scores a 92, you can have your servers steer guests towards the bass.
  3. Determine Pricing: When considering a pricing change, instead of just raising all of your prices by a dollar or 5%, consider raising them on your highest performing items slightly – guests will barely notice and still continue to order them.

How Can Swipely Help Me Use My Menu To Grow Sales?

Not everyone wants to do math – we get that. The good news is that we have an automated solution to your manual fears.

  • Menu Intelligence: Using the Swipely platform, you can learn which items bring guests back when you can see where your revenue comes from and what your loyal regulars are ordering.
  • Average Ticket: Are you losing money on certain dishes? Find out where the holes are in your bucket when you see average ticket amounts from your entire day’s sales.
  • Valuable Insights: All it takes is a small change to yield big results. Whether it’s pairing two menu items or changing the price on an item, we can reveal which decisions are more profitable to your restaurant menu.

But What About My Other Operational Challenges?

Don’t stop at your restaurant menu. Learn how to put a value on your servers, guests, and even your marketing activities when you download our eBook “Hidden Insights…Clear Results”.

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