Your menu is your restaurant’s number one salesperson. As long as your menus are made from high-quality, durable materials like TerraSlate, they will never have an “off day,” or struggle to connect with customers. With a purposeful design, your menu will say what you want and help sell your best dishes and drinks with barely any effort! But in order to have a menu that sells for you, the menu design needs more than a list of dishes — menu engineering uses psychological strategies to put together the optimal setup for a menu that sells.
Many restaurant owners take that knowledge and assume that they have to make use of an experienced menu design service to reap the benefits. Fortunately, that’s not always the case! For those who want to handle your own menu design, try these foolproof tips to create a better menu on your own:
Make A Strong Impression
When a customer enters your restaurant, they will likely be greeted by a host and a member of your waitstaff. But unless one of those greetings is personable, it’s not likely to be all that memorable. The true first impression all of your customers will have is your menu. This is not only the most impactful chance to promote certain dishes or drinks, but it’s also a key opportunity to share your story. As we discussed in our last blog, catchy graphics are good to grab attention, but telling your story helps to create a strong, memorable brand that keeps customers coming back.
Your menu is one of the single most effective ways of sharing your brand with every customer who walks through the door. Everything from the menu paper you use to the design and layout shares a message about your brand that influences customer decisions. Use your menu design to provide a strong first impression of your brand. Include your branding, of course, but also choose easy-to-read headers and fun visual elements that make dishes easy to find while telling the story of your brand. Those little details will help build a stronger impression and show off what makes your restaurant unique.
Analyze Reading Patterns
No, we don’t mean you should give every customer a survey asking about how they read the menu and chose the dishes they did. What you can do is make use of data you have easy access to in order to determine this information. Your point of sale system probably offers some data collation so you can see which of your dishes are ordered more or less frequently. You can also invest in a comprehensive menu report to see how your pricing compares to the industry average.
Statistically, customers’ eyes gravitate toward the upper right-hand corner of the menu first. The first and last items in a list or box also tend to be heavy hitters. Compare your big sellers to their positions on your menu to see how everything stacks up. Then, if there are dishes you’d like to sell more of, consider repositioning them to those “sweet spot” locations. Those locations are a great place for your higher-priced or higher-margin dishes, like a seafood entree or a deluxe burger.
Emphasize The Right Dishes
You can (and should!) use eye-catching fonts to draw customers’ eyes to the dishes you want to highlight. This can include bolding certain dish titles, using a contrasting color, or adding symbols around those big-seller dishes. Go bold or add subtle enhancement; choose whatever will keep with your overall brand. You can also use call-outs, graphic boxes, and dish images or illustrations to create a connection — just be careful when using food photos, as poor-quality photographs can actually be a deterrent instead of a draw.
Purposeful use of color is a great way to emphasize the dishes you want to push. Whether your menu is primarily black text or another color, use a bold, contrasting color to call attention to those dishes you want to sell the most. The color difference helps create a hierarchy for your layout as a whole, and customers will gravitate toward the items deemed the most “important” by those colors.
A Note About Photos
Illustrations and images can be a great way to call attention to your big dishes. What’s more tempting than seeing a depiction of a juicy, cheesy, roasted, or otherwise heavenly dish? But, unless you’re getting professional photos taken, it’s often better to avoid using photographs on your menus. Illustrations can be a more lasting option if you want to depict specific menu items. If you do choose to use photos on your menu, be sure to utilize a menu printing service to ensure you get sharp, clean images that will look good over time. If you’re using photos, it’s also especially important to use high-quality materials like waterproof paper so your menus will hold up against repeated handling and messes.
Using Descriptive Language
Have you ever watched a cooking show and found yourself with an uncontrollable urge to grab a snack? That happens in large part because of the descriptive way that the host talks about a dish — not just because things look delicious on screen. You can harness that same power by giving each menu item an alluring, evocative, and appealing description. Make your guests’ mouths water and sell dishes by creating descriptions that make your guests hungry.
Those descriptive labels can also help provide more favorable impressions when your guests eventually get their dishes. This study found that dishes with appealing titles and descriptions left guests feeling more satisfied with the meal. That, in turn, led to more positive comments and a higher rate of returning customers. Further, descriptive language gives you another way of building your brand. Get fun and creative with descriptions to promote the ideals of your brand, whether that’s an emphasis on hand-crafted options or playful dishes.
Skip The Dollar Signs
It might seem like an inconsequential detail, but studies have shown that removing the word “dollars” and skipping the “$” symbol actually help your higher-priced items sell better. Including numerals without any currency symbol works to “soften” the prices, making them less daunting. With the focus shifted away from the cost, consumers are more likely to look at dish titles and descriptions — which means you can better capitalize on menu placement and design to sell your dishes.
Along those lines, skip the zeros. Prices that end in .00 are viewed as “stuffy” while prices that end in .99 are seen as a good deal. Prices that end in a five, like .95 or .75, are seen as friendlier options and are thus more appealing. So, if you would charge $10 for a meal, round it up to $10.75 or $10.95 to make it look more friendly. The absolute best way to display a price is to put a single number with no punctuation, zeros or dollar signs. Example: Fettucini Alfredo 14
Choose Quality Materials
The other major mistake many restaurant owners make is that they don’t keep their menus looking fresh and clean. The struggle is understandable because keeping menus clean and free of wear can really affect your overhead expenses. One of the best ways to find the right balance is to choose high-quality materials for your menu printing. Fortunately, with TerraSlate waterproof paper options, you don’t have to sacrifice savings for better quality. Our waterproof paper is the best menu printing because we give you the freedom to create your own menus whenever you want — without sacrificing quality or durability.
TerraSlate waterproof paper is not just waterproof, it’s also rip-proof, heat-resistant, and totally colorfast — all incredibly valuable properties when it comes to making sure your menus look like new after months of use! The biggest benefit for any business is that our waterproof paper comes in a variety of sizes and colors, and all of our products work with the typical at-home laser printer. We make it easy to print new menus whenever you want, so you don’t have to wait on a menu printing service to print and ship them to you.
For those who don’t have a strong design background, not to worry! Here at TerraSlate, we also offer menu design services to guide you through the process. At the end, you can take the file and print them yourself on a variety of sizes and colors of our waterproof paper for menus that are unique to your business. Or make use of our menu printing services for expedient, professional menu delivery. Learn more and get creating today with TerraSlate!