Why is professional menu design so important?

There are many factors that could bring customers to your restaurant. A strong reputation may pique their curiosity. An advertised promotion may spur them to visit. A striking exterior may grab their attention. Or the scents from the kitchen might draw them from down the block. But even with all of the marketing opportunities there are to persuade a customer to try your restaurant, once customers have come to you, the key component of any restaurant’s marketing plan is a well-designed menu that solidifies the operation’s overall concept while promoting profitable items. Menus are the purest form of your restaurants strategic marketing plan and your blueprint for profitability. Of all those tools, menus are the place to begin and are your one piece of advertising every diner is guaranteed to read.

Menu size
Menu size can be used to grab attention and subtly affect your customers’ impression of the menu. A small menu anything that isn’t A4 may catch peoples attention however standard paper sizes are always easier to print. Consider your tables sizes – a large menu at a small table can be uncomfortable to hold – especially with wine glasses and candles!

Illustrations and pictures
Colours, boxes, typefaces, icons, artful illustrations or photos are all ways to help diners find their way through your menu. Photos draw attention to an item and as part of a selection can often be the one chosen 90% of the time! Be careful though -photos also imply a visual guarantee.

Font and type
Use an easy-to-read typeface no smaller than 12 point size. If you had to trade off between selling power and beauty, pick selling power! Don’t get clever with fonts unless you’re a designer! People need to be able to read the menu.

Where to place your prices
One of the most common mistakes I see are menus that align prices in a column on the right, leading customers to use the “shop-by-price method.” Since in the Western world we real left to right, no matter how nice the descriptions, this forces customers to look at the prices first. The eye tends to go straight to the prices. Also, don’t put the prices from most expensive to least expensive. People figure that out quickly!

Spelling
Once a menu is written, it should be proofread for spelling and grammar. Spelling errors and typos are two items that shouldn’t appear on any menu. It says a lot about a restaurant. If you can’t spell an item, how can a customer trust that you will know how to prepare it?

Staff training
To make the menu work to its fullest potential, there has to be a lot of emphasis on training employees. They have to understand how the food is cooked and what it will taste like. Besides knowing the details about the items on your menu, staff members should also be able to identify key sales opportunities. For instance, it helps when servers know which items are profitable.

Including your wine list with your food menu
Gone are the days of providing one wine list for the table. Imagine the increase in profit when a different glass is ordered with each course. When everyone has the list, it makes it more comfortable and allows for discussion between the whole table.

Often forgotten but important
Being your one piece of advertising every diner is guaranteed to read, take the opportunity to enforce your branding and enhance the opportunity for future business by including:

• Restaurant address

• Hours

• Contact details

• Out-catering or function details (if you provide this service)

How to write menu descriptions
Once upon a time we used to use very ‘fluffy’ or traditional descriptions for our menu items. Today we believe diners just require the basics –

• Method of cooking/ preparation

• Essential/ main ingredients if unique or unusual to restaurant

• Way the item is served and accompaniments

• Quality claims and freshness, grade

• Variety or geographic location it is from