André Pellerin has over 25 years of expertise in the food service industry. Being a former Marketing and Sales Associate, and a previous restaurant Owner/Operator, André has knowledge from both the Food Establishment and Supplier sides of the business.
So you’ve perfected your restaurant concept, attracted a fair amount of foot traffic, and managed to stay afloat for several months. Congratulations! Getting comfortable, however, is the first step in closing down your business. Even if you’re converting new customers to returning regulars consistently, you must always seek innovation in order to remain the top choice in your target demographic.
One way to remain relevant and adapt to trends is to update your menu. For some franchised fast food chains consistency is everything, and adding menu items may seem sacrilegious. After all, if you include more than seven menu items per category customers tend to get overwhelmed and anxious. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t swap out menu items throughout the year.
The sweet spot for menu updates is three or four updates per year, to keep your menu roughly seasonal in relevance. So, if it’s been four months, you should revamp your menu. I’ve previously covered the ways in which you should design your menu for maximum profits – if you have yet to update your menu, read through our guide and fix any placement or design issues accordingly during your first update.
The first reason to update your menu seasonally is a practical one – certain raw ingredients are not available or are harder to come by depending on the season. If a restaurant can manage and afford to keep their menu completely identical throughout the year, it tells a customer one of two scenarios is true: that your restaurant can afford the extra expense during the off-season, or that you use less fresh and more processed ingredients. Only offering certain items for a few months communicates to your customers that you’re serving genuine local food.
The second reason is more psychological – customers are more willing to splurge on indulgent menu items in certain parts of the year. For example, in the winter hot chocolate and seasonal drinks and desserts are more appealing. During the holidays, customers are likely to spend extra in order to celebrate or embrace the spirit of the season. Updating your menu with seasonal drinks, spirits, and desserts can pay off in dividends, especially if you increase the profit margins on your popular seasonal menu items.
The third reason is simply shrewd business sense – within reason, you must be willing to adapt your menu to the trends in health, diet, and wellness. In addition, as certain foods become more popular you should incorporate them into your menu. For example, you’d be hard-pressed to find a hamburger loaded with avocado that hasn’t sold well during the past three years. And restaurants offering gluten-free and dairy-free alternatives to traditional dishes have experienced a surge in popularity.