Menu: the best way to “talk” with customers

Imagine you go to a restaurant and a waitress brings you the menu. You see that the menu has the dish name, the ingredients and the price. Also you notice that many of the dishes are similar to a restaurant you visited last week. However, each dish on this menu had an attractive photo so I knew exactly what to expect if it was ordered. Which menu do you think the customer would be more interested in?

Everyone knows that a “good menu” helps restaurant sell more regardless if you’re just a casual cafe with really tasty food or a fine dining restaurant. It can also help customers make faster decisions. But what is a “good menu”?

We’ve collected and analysed hundreds of menus in Sydney and Melbourne (check them here) and conducted a customer survey across Australia to find out what makes a “good menu”. More importantly, we wanted to know what kind of menu could help both business and customer.

Does more dishes make for a “better” menu?

Many restaurants tend to offer more and more dishes to attract new customers. But does the longer menu bring a restaurant more profit? From our research,

Longer menus are more likely to delay a customer from choosing what they want to order.

You might be worried that you’ll lose customers if you remove some dishes. But in fact, less is more. If you can find a way to analyse which dishes sell well, keep them. For the ones are not selling well, cut them. Through our restaurant interviews, we know that some restaurants are already running little experiments manually. However this is often time-consuming. This is where digital can speed up these time-consuming tasks and enable you to focus on keeping up with food trends and experiments.

We also found that removing the redundant dishes was a way to both increase in sales and lowering of costs. What’s more, there’ll be an improvement of the choosing experience for your customers. Please see this Ted talk to find out more real examples.

Imagine at anytime being able to add/remove a dish from the menu within seconds or comparing which dish was most/least popular. Get in touch with our experts to learn more.

Diners want “easy-to-read” menus

Designing a menu can be complex as there are several things to consider from the dish description and what ingredients to list to coming up with a creative dish name. It is an art in itself. At the end of the day, all we want is the customer to order a dish that gets their attention or better yet, order a few to try.

83% of Australian diners say menus are “unnecessarily confusing”.

Diners want an easier-to-read menu. This includes only easy to read dish descriptions and more importantly a photo of the dish. This instantly gives customers a connection and expectation for the dish if they were to order it. At the same time, photos can significantly increase your sales since we all know that “a picture says a thousand words”.

We are aware that photos may increase the cost of your “menu” but through from speaking to many customers, it’s a better investment and returns much more than likes on a social page. 36% of customers said that “photos helped me order a dish”. So why not move the fancy photos from your Instagram to an online menu? With an online menu, there are many more opportunities to expand your online presence and reach to new customers.

Intrigue your customers

Reading a menu should be effortless and allow customers to easily find what they want. That’s why it’s important to let the menu “speak to” your customers. Through our research, we found that most of the diners would like to order recommended or signature dishes.

Chef’s choice and others recommendations help 20% of the diners order a dish.

So if you don’t already have some categories like “Most Popular” and “Chef’s Special”, why not get them on your menu. With an online menu, you can easily change this at any time to persuade and guide your diners to try new dishes and promote new dishes. You can allow customers to browse your menu faster, whether its dietary requirements or fulfilling a craving, and give them a realistic expectation of the dishes (with attractive photos) before ordering. If the menu can engage customers and find what they want easier, they will likely make faster decisions. We know a way so if you’d like to know more, leave us your email.

Increase exposure with an online menu

Now there is a way to improve the dining experience. Not only do the customers dining in your restaurant get to see what each dish could look like, tourists and new visitors to the area now have the opportunity to see what your menu offers. Online allows your restaurant to expand your reach to all those on the web and exponentially increase the exposure of your menu whether it’s a weekly menu update, daily special or new happy hour.

Exponentially increase the exposure of your menu to tourists and locals — available from anywhere, anytime.

Some restaurants believe that the PDF version of their menu online is good enough. Unfortunately and sorry to say, it is not. A PDF is hardly exciting to look at then most annoyingly the long wait times to download on a mobile network. A PDF is often a cumbersome and expensive process to keep up-to-date across multiple online platforms.

Let the mobile of every customer becomes a picture gallery of your menu, a true “online menu”. It allows customers to view your menu from anywhere, anytime. If you’re not convinced, some other reasons that we’ve discovered in our research:

  • Make your menu more accessible.
  • Attract more customers to your restaurant through mouth-watering photos of your dishes.
  • Assist customers in making quicker decisions.
  • Know which dishes your customers are interested in most and what they actually order.
  • Waiters are free up from the transaction work and become more loyalty to your restaurant.
  • You can make a better menu with lower cost.
  • The new menu could also help your customers to remember your restaurant.
  • Travelers are more likely to visit your restaurant if they can see at a quick glance what you are offering.
  • But take care of your kitchen, you might need more kitchen staffs to serve the hungry customers!

A good menu sells itself

It’s not an easy task to write a great menu nor is it a quick task. This increases in complexity when the menu changes often. On the contrary, a simple description and photos are much quicker to compile.

Bring together your food photos across social media(Instagram, Facebook) with your menu to give your customers better insight and attractive experience of your menu before they visit your restaurant. Hence, a “good menu” that is more accessible and visual should help the restaurant sell more and enable customers to make faster decisions.

A few tips to make your menu better:

  • Continuously experiment and only keep the best dishes on your menu.
  • Remove extraneous information from your menu.
  • Use attractive photos to help your customer make decision faster.
  • Keep your menu clean with the latest price and dishes.
  • Make your menu stand out with technology, which can improve the customer experience, increase the profit and reduce your staffs work.

What do you think makes for a good menu? We’d love to hear your thoughts whether you’re a customer or restaurant. Stay tuned and follow us on Medium ATUMIO to learn more about our upcoming research insights and and on Instagram here!
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