3 Tips for Creating a Successful Menu – The Likuid Espresso Story, Part 3
Welcome to part 3 of the Likuid Espresso story. In this blog post I’m going to show you 3 things the Likuid team did to end up with their ideal menu.
Menu creation is far from an exact science, but I’ve put together some universal tips that are vital to achieving a good result. Let’s dive in!
1. Do Your Research
Who sells what on your street? What do people rave about, what do they whinge about? What’s the price point in the area? What are the locals looking for? A healthy bite on the run with a takeaway mezzo latte? A burger with the lot and a cheap coffee? A leisurely almond milk latte’ and quinoa salad? Who are they?
Ask questions. Ask lots of questions, both of yourself and your potential customer. One common reason for business failure is simply selling stuff that people don’t want. Assumptions are the enemy.
The main things you need to be thinking about when you research your menu are:
- Who is my customer and what kind of food do they like?
- How can I add a dimension to my food that differentiates me from everyone else?
- What methods can I use to prepare each menu item with the maximum efficiency and minimum cost?
In Likuid’s case, their store is in the heart of Adelaide’s CBD, where time-poor business people are looking for a quick, healthy, delicious bite. Likuid has something for everyone, with a focus on light meals that are easy to prepare with maximum taste and sophistication.
Chef Luke takes classic dishes and gives them an additional dimension to set them apart from the “same same” cafe offerings. Familiar food, but with a delicious twist. One example is Luke’s ‘Sous Vide Eggs with Toasted Soldiers’. Sounds fancy, but at it’s core it’s simply ‘Soft-boiled eggs with toasted soldiers’. He just takes it to the next level. Another secret to this dish is that Luke’s crafted it in such a way that almost any cook can do it with the right instructions and a little practice.
2. Price It Right
Pricing can be a tricky animal, especially when you first start out. There are a few things you need to weigh up when you start pricing your menu.
- How low can I push my suppliers on pricing of my ingredients and salable items?
- What percentage gross profit am I aiming for?
- What are people around me charging for similar items?
In Pius’s case, he’s established relationships with a few suppliers, which has its advantages. But it’s never a case of “set and forget” when it comes to supplier pricing.
Supplier relationships are a constant tug-of-war. Even if you’ve negotiated a good price, you need to stay on top of these relationships if you’re going to sustain a good level of gross profit. As much as you may “buddy up” with a supplier, they are not your “mate”. They are negotiating their bottom line to get the best price they can by reading you and your business. You have to do the same thing if you want your menu to sing.
Go for a walk around the neighbourhood. Sit down and have a coffee at your closest competitor, or get someone else to do it. You need to identify their price point, but also the quality of what they’re offering. If it’s excellent, you need to do the same or better. If it’s average, you need to ask yourself whether people are ok with that based on the price point, and what you have to do to justify charging a dollar extra for the awesome version.
3. Presenting Your Menu Beautifully
There are a few elements that are often overlooked when people get their menus designed and printed.
For starters, if you take one piece of advice from me, take this one. Don’t use dollar symbols on your menus. If it’s 10 dollars, display it as “10”, not “$10”.
A lot of marketing research has been done around this, and casinos have done it brilliantly. Why do you think they make you exchange your money for chips before you start gambling? Because they know you’d spend less if you had real dollars on the table. Removing the dollar symbol relieves the fear of monetary loss. That’s my first tip.
Creating the graphic design of your menu is the most fun you’ll have in the process of menu creation, so allow yourself to enjoy it. Have a look on Pinterest for some menu board ideas.
I designed Likuid’s menu after doing a bit of research online, based on some of the designs that the Likuid team liked.
They wanted a hand-held menu, with a slim backing-board on it — the typical sheets of paper on a clip-board style thing. There are 2 problems with this kind of menu board:
- If you stack them, they take up a lot of room because the metal clips are quite big.
- You can’t tell at a glance how many pages the menu has, or what the contents are.
We solved the problem of bulkiness by getting rid of the metal clip, and replacing it with a black rubber band that matches the black-washed timber backing board.
As for the pages, we made each one shorter than the other, so we could use the bottom strip as a title of each page – kind of like an index in a book. This way you can immediately see the breakdown of the menu and jump to the lunch page without wasting a second.
Creating the perfect menu is a little like chasing the end of the rainbow — it’s never-ending. When you start out, it’s full of hopes and dreams and the things you want your customer to love.
Over time your customers will start dictating what stays, what goes, and what they’re missing. All the variables that decide our menus are in constant motion, and we need to stay loose enough to adapt to those changes.
At the end of the day, your menu is key to the success of your business. It can be the difference between a flop and a roaring success story.
Also published on Medium.