Guests are Judging Your Restaurant Menu

Image Used with Permission

Shifting menu trends in the industry mean that restaurateurs must continuously evaluate and update your menu. How do you update your menu and remain profitable if you don't know which items are most profitable and which ones you should 86?

According to the NRA, the top 4 menu trends restaurateurs must prepare for are: Going Local, Going Green, Going Health Conscious, and Going All Natural. But does that mean a complete menu revamp is called for?

Yes and no.

Restaurant Menu Decisions Are Not One And Done

When it comes to a restaurant menu, operators have already made many well thought out decisions on its contents. You might believe that you know which items your guests enjoy best and what is the most cost-effective way to produce these selections, but with an analytical eye and the appropriate data, you'd be surprised at what you can find.

How Well Do You Know Your Menu?

You might sell a lot of a particular menu item, but does that mean guests come back because of it?

To understand how effective a menu item is, Swipely has created a formula (based on their experiences working with 3,000+ local merchants) for evaluating restaurant menu items and their benefit to your business, in terms of creating loyal repeat customers.

% Formula Weight   Single Menu Item   Avg. for All Menu Items
40 x Orders / Orders
40 x Retention Rate / Retention Rate
20 x Menu Item Price / Menu Item Price

Benefits Of The Menu Score

The result of this formula will give each menu item an index score, usually between 30 and 200. There tends to be a lot of variability in menu items, but no insight is wasted when it comes to building customer loyalty.

  • A score of 100 is your average menu item
  • A menu item that scores 123 will be 23% more valuable to your business than an average menu item
  • A menu item that scores an 87 will be 13% less valuable to you than an average menu item

What Can You Do With This Information?

Knowing is only half the battle. Now that you have an in-depth understanding of how your menu items perform, you can start making better business decisions that lead to more profitable menus.

But that's not all.

  1. Train Your Staff: Improve staff performance when you train your staff on which items have the highest index scores and are best for the restaurant (and them). Increased sales and increased repeat business means increased tips.
  2. Provide Profitable Recommendations: If you offer two fish choices, a striped bass that scores a 130 and a salmon that scores a 92, you can have your servers steer guests towards the bass.
  3. Determine Pricing: When considering a pricing change, instead of just raising all of your prices by a dollar or 5%, consider raising them on your highest performing items slightly—guests will barely notice and still continue to order them.

But What About Other Operational Challenges?

Swipely has also produced an eBook called Hidden Insights...Clear Results to help restaurateurs go beyond the menu and learn how to put a value on servers, guests, and even marketing activities.

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.


I'm in the process of revamping our menu so this article came at the right time, however, i'm not clear as to how to use the formula above.  Can you explain it in a little more detail, perhaps using an example of some items?Thanks

I also do not understand the formula

Same question.  How do you arrive at the Formula Weight?

Is there a link to download the eBook?  Is there a software system or POS with a menu that can be programmed to compute the formula? 

Interesting concept, but I wonder what matrix is used to determine what should stay and what should go? Is it purely a popularity and or poifitability measure? If so, what constitutes profit and popular?  If by profit you assume that the restaurants have measured their true cost of their menu items assuming that they even have a recipe,  when statistically over 95% of indy concepts don't have a proper recipe book, nor do they actually cost them out properly.  Even when current software is applied since current software doesn't factor in a fraction of the elements associated with the cost matrix of building a recipe, just the old school method of obvious factors and rough regurgitated estimated COGS. With that aside, what is popular is relative only to what's available on the menu as an option. Just because a menu item is popular doesn't or profitable for that matter, doesn't mean it's the right item, it just means it's perhaps the best of the worst? Times have changed and although we have advanced considerably in the way of menu engineering and technology,  we've forgotten about the fundamentals.  You said that they put a lot of thought into what they put on their menus but actually they don't.  People create menus based on their access to information,  environment and personal experience naturally, which means their decisions are more often emotional rather than economical.  They put their energy and time into what they feel rather than what they need, which is to make money. A passion before profit subconscious  mentality. To summarize,  your concept is interesting and I do believe that their is an e=mc2 however much interested in your calculator. 

This formula is only applicable with retention data, which most independents don't have access to.  Swipely offers useful data (measuring retention by matching credit card data to menu item purchased), and can give you a clearer picture of who your guest is if you don't already know.  But it's not cheap.

Add new comment