Never judge a book by its cover: read it first

I have always been in favor of that saying that does not judge the book for its cover and many times I have heard colleagues boast that their gastronomic offer has everything and to choose from. It is no less true that the more opportunities we have to select what we are going to taste so we will be satisfied with the restaurant that we have chosen and with our pocket.

Like me, this has happened to many people and the reason is in poor planning of the menu. Planning is the action of foreseeing the necessary actions between the start and the end of a process. The action of planning the gastronomic offer and expressing its content through the menu - menu is a process that it not only refers to the fact of establishing in a list different elaborations, both of food and beverages, but also demands an in-depth study, so that it responds to the needs of the plaintiffs and generates benefits in money for the offeror.

Eating habits: first source of inspiration

To define the products to be served in the establishment, eating habits must be taken into consideration, preferences and nutritional needs of diners, and also that the type, color, texture, flavor and nutritional value of the foods to be offered harmoniously combine, so that a varied menu is obtained.
Thus, in order to carry out the menu planning process in any establishment, the following must be taken into account factors:
Food - nutrient: eating habits are in a process of constant evolution, not only as a sociological norm, but by the intervention of medicine in people's food education.
Gastronomic: the variety The offers and the ways in which they are presented will represent opportunities for the diner to choose. In this sense, the administrator must play with the fact of not repeating similar expressions or names; avoid equal decorations on more than one plate; do not repeat garnishes; classify the different specialties by homogeneous groups or categories, establishing an adequate division that respects the logical sequence of the service and providing information on each of them.
Likewise, carry out the performance tests necessary to determine the appropriate weights of each of the elaborations and eliminate those that are not significant in costs and that its elaboration process is slow; as well as, reserve a space for the different suggestions, chef's dishes and those elaborations that depend on the service season or the fluctuations of prices in the market.
Marketing: concatenated to the previous factor, this plays an important role within the offer planning and presentation process. It is neither possible nor suitable for restaurant submit a letter without a two-stage market study. The PRIMerely during the preparation of the letter according to the results that this primary research shows and the second corresponds to the monitoring of the changes that in terms of tastes occur in the clients, as well as each client in particular, so that they express themselves the preferences of customers for particular dishes, attending to quality, price and quantity.
Similarly, this factor includes the study of competition. The type of service, the offer it makes, how it does it, at what prices and in what quantities. The fact of taking these elements into account also includes the possibility of foreseeing changes and adaptations to the new trends that arise.
The Marketing factor must, together with the merchandising tactics that are applied, show, in the final result, the image of the restaurant.
Sociological: it seeks to take care of the speed, functionality and quality of the service and the offer, as well as that the menu is made up of dishes that are easy to prepare and that allow them to be remembered by customers, as well as the sequence in which the restaurant by the client to carry out the rotations of dishes and menus, so that what is stated above is achieved so that abundance and variety are perceived.
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The results of the previous studies and the conjugation of each one of the factors will be reflected in the presentation of the offer. Appearance commercial It is decisive in this process, since the letter must express breadth, variety, but at the same time it must be easy to handle. It must take care of aspects such as size, color and typeface so that it is readable for anyone in correspondence with the intensity of the restaurant lighting. Its structure should seek to locate those dishes in the areas that the customer is most easily focused on, as well as giving a preferential place to the elaborations that for the interest of the house require a quick exit.
Like any company that produces goods and services, the restaurant must evaluate with certain frequency, in a quantitative and qualitative the behavior of the offer, in order to identify those proposals that it makes and that do not represent benefits for the organization, adjusting them according to the specifications made by the clientele.
In this respect the administrator You can evaluate them from the application of satisfaction surveys and quantitative instruments such as Menu Engineering, the Insights Cost - Margin, Miller's matrix, Consumption Differences Studies by market segments, demand forecast, Insights of the costs of operations, projection of budgets, study of suppliers, availability of raw materials, competencies of the personnel who offer the service, among others.

Planning objectives menu

Attract and please diners. If this objective is not fulfilled, all the others stop making sense.

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To satisfy as much as possible the nutritional needs of diners. Seek to offer food and drinks according to the habits, customs and activities carried out by customers. A current trend is to offer menus for ladies, dietetics, business, etc.

Stay within budget limits. The menu offered must compensate the expenses incurred in the purchase process, as well as respond to the stock of raw materials, technology and the capacity of its producers. Food that cannot be made due to lack of stock or technical and operational incapacity should not be offered to the customer.

Define the purchasing processes, necessary technology and trained personnel. The menu planning allows to identify the supply needs, the human and technological resources necessary for its manufacture.

Importance of the standard recipe in menu planning

menuThe recipe is a formula to produce a food or beverage item, it specifies the ingredients, the required quantities of each of them, the preparation procedures, the weight of the portions, the cooking time, the temperature and any other information necessary for its elaboration.
Consequently, when planning the menu, the preparation methods of each of the products offered must be taken into account, given that they allow the purchase process to be more efficient, since the exact quantities of the product that can be determined can be determined. it is needed, specifications can be made to the buyer of the product, according to the type of preparation; They also allow the equipment to be programmed for the preparation and cooking process, to adjust the production, as well as to standardize the process, reducing the supervision time.
The development of the standard recipe as its name implies has the objective, in addition to determining the potential cost of the dish and setting prices, to standardize the production process and the presentation of dishes to the customer.
In order for its objective to be fulfilled and to contribute to an adequate planning of the menu that will be presented to the client, a schedule must be developed to standardize the restaurant's cookbook, define what type of production will be carried out (in this case I mean the capacity of restaurant load), record ingredients in the order they are used and the quantities required; the exact procedures (in this case I include the machinery (type, time, temperature and speed), portioning instruments, necessary supplies and garnish that will accompany the dish.

Menu merchandising tactics.

They are actions that are developed to facilitate the interpretation by the client of the adjustments that are applied to the prices of the dishes. Technically they are known as "gorillas" since many of them are not commonly applied, nor are the methodology for their application found in textbooks. They have their origin in the "elegant school of life".
Gestalf Tactics: In essence, it seeks that the menu be seen as a whole, given that customers see the offer as an amorphous whole. This is the reason why it is important that all items with higher prices are not located in the most visible areas of the menu.
The "menu shock"It also occurs when very price-sensitive items are priced above popular market price indices, serving as a benchmark for customers. Its objective is precisely to locate in the most visible parts those dishes that we want to highlight the most with the intention of generating the impression of a menu with high price indices, as if they were reasonable.
Adjectival tactics: Seeks to fix the name of a dish in the customer's mind, just as it favors reading the menu by applying attractive names to the dishes.
Primacy and regency tactics: psychologically within a list of dishes, customers always pay more attention to the first two and the last two, the ones in the middle are not significant, so they are the ones that the customer pays less attention to. This tactic seeks to locate in the best positions the dishes that are most profitable for the restaurant and consequently fix them in the consumer's mind.
Odd - even pricing tactics: It is scientifically demonstrable that people are attracted to prices that end in odd numbers, rather than even or zero numbers. By crosslinking between price indices, resistance to them begins. This tactic proposes to set prices ending in 5 or 9 and not those ending in zero or even number.
Closing tactics: its objective is to draw the customer's attention to a dish or group of these. The forms that can be used for its application are varied, but in essence they seek a psycho - social effect on the client. For example, when closing on the most profitable and popular lines, consumers will spend the most time reading them.
Dislocation tactics: consists of not placing the dishes in line, one behind the other. A logical order is not followed in the presentation. It is used in conjunction with the gestalf and the closing to improve popularity of groups of dishes that represent a greater margin of greed.
Price blindness tactics: Also known as disorderly pricing, and is based on placing the price immediately and following the description or name of the product, with the same font size, without using “leading points”.
Price line tactic: Pricing has several levels, with no intermediate points. All products are intended to fall into one of the established price categories. The application of it in retail sales has proven to be advantageous, but its use in restaurants It has been unattractive and is only being used for breakfast or snacks where, you can make a selection of a group of dishes for the same price.
Variety illusion tactics: Often menus with many products are formulated in a small size, this creates an illusion of limited variety that can convince customers that selection is restricted.
This technique is based on the reduction of the great menu to a more changeable one that includes from 3 to 5 dishes every day, which allows breaking the monotony of the menu, leaving a fixed part of no more than 5 dishes that will be the characteristics or specialties of the house and those of greater popularity and / or contribution margin, which will allow the selection of the client to be directed towards those desired by the restaurant.
White space tactics: It is based on the use of drawings, photographs or any other decorative element to attract the customer's attention, in spaces where the view is less frequent, as well as the use for the promotion of other restaurant offers in the areas that comprise the cover. back and the back cover of the menu, creating an illusion of variety in the offer.
Menu placement tactics: Although it is not a rule to follow, the fact of locating the menus in several restaurant areas; and in the case of hotel facilities in areas such as the lobby, elevators using sheets and photographs of the dishes or products to be marketed will facilitate the reading of the same by those customers who have not used the restaurant service, as well as constitutes an advertising instrument.
Don't judge the book by the cover, judge it by its content. A nice menu, does not always offer variety. The bad planning The consequence of the menu will be that your offer will not make the impression that you want on the client and the memory that the client will have of your restaurant will be like not to return. Be objective. Offer what you can do. Do not pressure your client to know everything you have, show it little by little, so he will infer that you are creative, timely and always, always, always loyal to him.
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I am a dreamer and in my dreams I believe that a better world is possible, that no one knows more than anyone, we all learn from everyone. I love gastronomy, numbers, teaching and sharing all the little I know, because by sharing I also learn. "Let's all go together from foundation to success"
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