March 2004 Edition
Prune Your Menu and Grow Your Profits

Do you want to make more money?

Get your slow-moving items OFF the menu!

Looking for the definition of a slow-mover? Here is a good guideline: Any menu item that contributes less than 3% of the gross profit from its category (salads, entrées, desserts etc.) is a good candidate for elimination. The most balanced and profitable menus are typically those in which every category item comes close to contributing equal gross profits. While this may be impossible to achieve it is nonetheless a good goal to strive for.

For example, if you are selling an average of two orders of Linguini and Clam Sauce per day, don’t offer it. One can of chopped clams can easily make 15 orders of clam sauce, but once its opened it has a very short shelf life. The throwaway for this item can easily amount to $9.00 every two days or about $1,642.00 per year!

Of course there is always the argument that "some of my customers will be disappointed when they come in and find out we no longer offer it on the menu."

However, those customers can’t be coming in that often or you would be selling more of this slow-moving item. And, you can still win their loyalty by apologizing in the form of a complimentary appetizer, dessert or glass of wine - either one of which will cost a lot less than $1,642.00!

Table turns can also be a critical factor in the success of many restaurants. And slow-movers may be cluttering the menu, increasing the time it takes for customers to read the menu and make a selection. If each customer at a four person table takes an additional one minute to make up their minds, that four minute delay per table can ripple through an entire meal period slowing down service, and sales, for everyone.

The relief cook who has been working for eight weeks who has never received an order for Linguini and Clam Sauce will also be at a considerable disadvantage when this dish is ordered. On a busy Saturday night what are the chances that he will be able to prepare this dish quickly, correctly and in the proper portion?

Profit is simply the difference between revenue and expenses. A properly pruned menu helps to minimize throw-aways and the related food cost expense. Nothing helps the Bottom Line more than the Top Line - fast table turns and properly prepared and portioned menu items will result in consistently happy customers and top line growth.

Get rid of the slow-movers now, before you change your mind. ¨


Why Should You Get Rid of Slow-Movers?

  1. They have a high throw-away cost.
  2. They slow down customer decision-making.
  3. The cooks don't get enough practice to prepare slow-movers correctly.
  4. They don’t contribute to profitability.

Contributed by: Tepper Kalmar Associates of Emeryville, California

Consulting and Training Services for the Food Service Industry

(510) 655-0936

Watch for us at many Sysco Food Shows.

Do People Read Menus Anymore?

As a customer, have you ever been seated, received your beverage and then found yourself clueless when the server came to take your order?

Why? Because everyone at your table was so wrapped up in socializing and having a good time that no one had taken the time to glance at the menu.

In fact, restaurant guests are so involved in the social dynamics of the table that when they finally get around to looking at the menu, they tend to scan it and make their decision rather quickly.

Formal studies have shown that people tend to follow a particular sight path when glancing at a menu. Below you'll find the paths people commonly take when scanning one, two and three panel menus. You may want to consider placing your 'prime' menu items, the ones you really want to sell, in the positions that tend to get looked at first and most often. The value here is being aware that there are hot and cold areas on any menu.

In today's fast-paced, time-crunched world, your customers may not have or want to take the time to read your entire menu. Turn this into an opportunity to steer them towards the items you really want them to buy by placing your 'prime' menu items where people tend to look most frequently.

Excerpted from The Service That Sells!â Newsletter. Subscriptions: 800-247-8514.