Menu Engineering & Design: How to Influence Customers, Increase Sales

100% of your customers will read your menu and decide what to purchase as a result. It would be crazy NOT to improve your menu at every chance you get.
By: Chris Barr

Have you ever noticed that big headlines, creative artwork, and colorful photos grab your attention and entice you to learn more? I notice it all of the time when I’m browsing the web for news or while reading a magazine.

Take a minute and think about your favorite publication or website. Ask yourself an important question…

“What determines if I read an article? Watch a video? Order a pizza?”

If you are like most people, the headline or image displayed is the trigger for your next action, whether you ignore the content or decide to learn more.

As it turns out, headlines and images work the same way when it comes to influencing customers’ ordering decisions on printed menus.

According to a recent Gallup poll, your average customer looks at your menu for approximately 1:45 before deciding on what to order. By designing and engineering your menu to sell (more of) high profit items, you can increase your revenue and run a better business.
Keep in mind that 100% of your customers will read your menu and decide what to purchase as a result. It would be crazy NOT to improve your menu at every chance you get. Makes sense, right?

So how do you create a menu that actually sells more food?
Think of your menu as an off-site salesman.

It may sound a little funny, but here are several marketing techniques that will help your “salesman” generate more cash …and cash flow is always serious business.

Design for Eye-Scanning, Menu Browsing
Most people do not read a menu from page to page like they would read a novel or book. Instead, they quickly scan your menu, almost randomly, to find information and items that appeal to their tastes.

Wouldn’t it be great to know “how a customer scans your menu” and makes purchasing decisions?

Well now you can. Click on the image below to download a high-quality “Eye Scan Menu”. Grab a copy of your current menu and trace the same “eye path” – does your menu pass the test?

Menu Engineering Design Example

Promoting High-Profit Items
If you want to sell more of certain items, they need to be placed where the eye first looks for answers. There is a science to guiding the eye, and to avoid losing a customer’s interest, you must pass several “visual checkpoints” along the way to the sale.

Placement of Menu Items
Customers typically purchase the first two items and the last item listed under each category. By placing your most profitable items in these positions, you can count on selling more of them.

Breadsticks (75% Margin)
Breadsticks w/ Cheese (70% Margin)
Chicken Tenders (40% Margin)
Onion Rings (40% Margin)
Meatballs (40% Margin)
Mozzarella Sticks (55% Margin)

Use of Boxing/Tables:
You can highlight a particular item or set of items on your menu by “boxing” them. I recommend that a box covers less than 20% of a panel, to improve visibility. You can enhance this effect with additional colors or type changes.


New! Gourmet Pizzas

Meat Lover’s

Buffalo Chicken
Grilled chick smothered in our mild buffalo sauce served with a side of ranch & buffalo sauce.

BBQ Chicken

Page Positions:
On a tri-fold (or three panel) menu, people most often look at the center panel first, and then move counter clockwise starting from the top right corner. Consider placing your most profitable items in these areas along with mouth-watering pictures.

Pizza >> sides >> additional options >> incentive to purchase

Help New Customers Make Decisions:
A well-known (but often overlooked) strategy to help secure new customer orders is to recommend “safe items” to them. You can ease their first-time purchase anxiety by highlighting certain items with a Best-Seller or Chef’s Recommendation star character.

Cheese Pizza
star Double Pepperoni Pizza
Meat Lover’s Pizza
Supreme Pizza
BBQ Chicken Pizza

star = Best Seller

Colors and Fonts
The colors and fonts used throughout your menu should be consistent and should appeal to your target audience. If you are marketing towards families with children, use bright and playful colors and maybe include some Fun Facts, games, etc. If marketing towards a sophisticated demographic, use modern fonts and tasteful images that reflect quality and value. The most important thing to remember is that your menu must be clear, concise, and easy to read no matter the readers’ age, demographic, or background.

Information Overload? Not Sure Where To Start?
Don’t worry, we’re here to help you. With more than 4,000 restaurant accounts, and years of experience, the design professionals at Taradel can create a masterpiece – just for you.

CALL 1-800-481-1656 TO LEARN MORE, TODAY!


3 thoughts on “Menu Engineering & Design: How to Influence Customers, Increase Sales

  1. Hallo

    I got a question, if I want to create a new menu, with all new items on it, how can i decide where to place the items?

    Best regards

    Andreas Jungwirth

    1. Andreas,

      It really depends on your restaurant’s concept, number of menu items, and what items you sell the most of. Check out our menu design gallery to see how we’ve designed menus for other restaurants.

      We also offer full design services (which are discounted if you order printing through us). Give a call and we can give you a quick quote – 1-800-481-1656.

      Good luck on your new menus!

      Kevin @ Taradel

  2. Wanted to see how much it would cost to “re-do” our menus for the Katsuya by Starck brand. We have existing menus but want to see how we can maximize our profits, ROI on item placement etc. Can someone please email me with a quote. thanks

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