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How to Choose the Best Dishes for Your Menu

Whether you’re revamping your existing menu or building a new one from scratch, it’s smart to be strategic about which dishes you include.
24th Mar 2022
Whether you’re revamping your existing menu or building a new one from scratch, it’s smart to be strategic about which dishes you include. 

In this article, we share a straightforward menu analysis process that will allow you to see which menu items are best serving your business, which ones might need some work — and which should be shown the door. 

1. Categorise 

Four distinct categories should drive how you plan your menu. Each of the categories represents a different level of popularity and profitability of your dishes, as illustrated below.
  • Stars are dishes that are both very popular and highly profitable. 
  • Plough horses are also popular, but have low profitability. 
  • Puzzles are dishes that are highly profitable, but not regularly ordered. 
  • Dogs are dishes that have proved neither popular nor profitable. 

Categorise all your dishes into one of these quadrants by analysing cost and sales data from your POS system, then use this information to guide you in how to treat each one. 

2. Analyse 

While every business is different, here is some guidance for how to act on the information you have collected: 


  • Stars: Be sure to draw your customers’ attention to these menu items through smart placement and visual cues. 
  • Plough horses: Because these items are popular, they’re worth keeping: they may play a role in attracting customers in the first place. Explore whether small changes could make these dishes more profitable. 
  • Puzzles: Find ways to highlight these profitable dishes and turn them into stars. Smart menu placement and enticing descriptions can help. 
  • Dogs: Think long and hard about whether these dishes are worth keeping at all. If one appeals to a specific customer segment, consider keeping it, but don’t spend too much time on its promotion. 

Remember: less is more. Your instinct may be to provide customers with as many dishes as possible, but more isn’t always better — in fact, too much choice can hinder the decision-making process. One study from Bournemouth University found that around six options per section is the ideal number for more casual establishments, with between 7-10 most effective for fine dining. 

Now that you’ve defined the content of your menu, it’s time to be strategic about its design.
 
Ten Kites from Nutritics has the expertise you need to help you maximise your menu offering. Get in touch today to find out how we can create a menu unique to your business. 

 

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