By Mark Lee
From a simple black and white chalk board look to sophisticated multi-color design, menu boards are among the best sales tools a restaurant owner has. For best response, create menu boards that work best with the restaurant’s theme and color.
The menu should be easy to read using a font that fits the theme of the restaurant. Menu boards allow for flexibility and can fit the season, the latest food promotions or even the time of day.
“Most guests read the board even if they have a preconceived notion of what they want to order,” says Kimberly Schwank, senior marketing manager at the Coca-Cola Company. “I can tell you that a successful menu board should incorporate five key attributes: photos, organization, readability and simplicity, use of color, and information.”
Branding guru Howard Blankiston says clarity and simplicity are especially important with consumers.
A neat menu board influences the success of its core parts, he says. In terms of organization and information, the center of the menu is a hot spot, naturally drawing in consumers’ eyes first. Placing the most popular and frequently ordered items in the hot spot ensures hungry patrons find them faster, Blackiston says.
According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurant operators have about three minutes to impress guests with the design, layout, and content of their menus. Menus comprise the second most powerful tool that restaurant operators have to market their products. While team members typically influence what your guests order, restaurant menus, if merchandised correctly, can be a factor in determining how much your guests will spend.
Successful restaurant operators merchandise menus to define the concept, align customer expectations to match the dining experience, and utilize a powerful marketing tool that attracts customer attention. Menu merchandising goes a long way towards determining customer satisfaction, profitability, and restaurant longevity.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and the adage applies to menu merchandising. You can write the most descriptive copy for menu items, but your writing prowess will not sell menu items as well as professionally shot photographs. Your servers can use descriptive terms such as succulent, steamy, and hearty to describe a vegetable soup, but a photograph that displays steam rising from a bowl of soup that contains succulent looking vegetables and a hearty broth does more to sway your guests.
The first few lines of a novel largely determines if a reader is moved enough to read the rest of the book. Your menu design has the same purpose as the first few lines of a novel: excite your guests to learn more about your food and beverage offerings. Menu designs do not have to be loud and bright to provoke interest. The color scheme should mirror the color scheme of the restaurant. If in doubt, use darker colors that convey an aura of tranquility. Loud colors can overload a customer’s senses.