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A lot of restaurant operators I work with are getting complaints about their restaurant menu prices.

HotOperator Money Here are 7 things you should do to support higher prices in your restaurant.

1 – Understand Value and Price in Foodservice

Prices are supported by product or service function. In the restaurant business, that takes into account a number of factors. But ‘value’ is not about lower prices. It’s about price and function being close together, where price is slightly more important in the decision than function. But they have got to be close together to create value that a consumer will continue to purchase. In other words, your burger as a product has to function well enough to create value. And this value is a variable.

What to do? Consider if your burger is worth the price. Is it consistent, enough to fill a plate and different enough to get someone to want one more than once.

2 – Getting More Butts in Seats

A wise man once said: Getting more customers is actually pretty easy: just lower prices. Making more money for each item you sell is pretty easy, too. Just take a price increase. But the real genius in marketing is to do both at the same time. It takes real skill and strategy, not just tactics. So much of the restaurant business today is tactical. There is not enough strategy, especially with independent operators.

Tactical thinking also includes missing brand awareness strategies. Brands are evolutionary, not revolutionary. Which means they must be updated slowly if at all (unless you have a lot of money to spend on advertising). And it’s not just about design, it’s also about voice, structure and guest impressions. Especially for a smaller operation. If you would like, I have a brand deck I can send you. Just reach out and I’ll email it to you.

Sadly, most independents don’t understand brand awareness. They don’t realize their brand probably hasn’t had enough support to be top of mind with guests. My advice, leave it alone unless you’re changing your operation completely.

What to do? Get my deck on brand development. It’s free and insightful.

3 – Get A Better Menu

Of course I would say that, but every operator I speak with lately wonders how to get more people into their restaurant. And when I look at their menu, it’s more of a memo than a menu. A better menu tells the guest what you think of them, not just the food. And, it’s strategic. A restaurant menu needs to tell your servers what you want to sell, and offer your guests the same information.

A great menu will do that. And, it will encourage your guests to dine with you more often.

Here’s the thing, of course everything you sell is good, right? If it wasn’t good it wouldn’t be on the menu. But some things are better than others at getting people into your restaurant. And still others can do that and make you more money. Those are the menu items you want your menu and your staff to be promoting.

What to do? Get a professionally design-engineered menu and teach your staff how to use the menu properly.

4 – Offer a Quality Guarantee.

It is essential to put your higher prices into perspective for your guests. Explain to them that quality food is more important than changing a product to save half a buck, or worse making the product smaller.  

Instead, put it on your menu: “OUR QUALITY GUARANTEE! We will not sacrifice quality or portion size to lower prices! You’ve come to expect great quality from us and that’s our commitment to you!”

What to do: Make an announcement on your menu.

5 – Train Your Staff. 

When anyone who works for you hears anyone say anything about the prices being too high, have them look the guest in the eye and say: “We had a choice. We could either lower the quality of our food, make the portions smaller, or take a modest price increase. We figure it is our duty to you to make sure the quality of our food never changes, so we chose to take a small price increase.”

What to do? Train your staff (boy, it’s like nobody is listening).

6 – Use Social Media.

Most operators don’t use social media well, and certainly not often enough. But when you do use social media, it’s not just about your specials menu, or the latest food item. It’s also about communicating with your guests. So make a few posts that communicate why you’re costing a little more.

Here’s an example: Make a social post on social media about the size of potato chips in the bag at a grocery store. Everyone can relate to this. Ask: “Did you ever notice that the amount of chips in the bag gets smaller but the price stays the same? Potato chip companies do it all the time. At Holly’s, we think that’s cheating customers. We would never do that. We’ll be honest with you. The prices of the quality food we offer has gone up, so we’ve had to take a small price increase. Thank you for understanding, and sorry about the potato chips you just bought.”

What to do? Post on social media about the quality of your food.

7 – Use Mental Anchoring

Have some comparisons on your menu that show your guests how little they are actually spending in your restaurant. Here are a few ideas, but if you want something just for your business, reach out.

Sell a car on your menu – no, seriously, sell a brand new car or truck. Your 15.99 burger suddenly looks cheap compared to a $120,000.00 Ford Pickup.

Compare your food to local homes – just list the average price for a new home. Again, it’s just for comparison.

Put a 1,000 wing party on your menu – if you’re selling wings at $1.25 each, that comes to, wait, let me get my calculator, oh, yeah $1,250.00. Again, your burger looks cheap by comparison.

Offer a steak combination – even if you’re not a steak joint. The most expensive product on a menu is nearly always the slowest seller. Look at Texas Roadhouse as an example. They have expensive steaks, but their best seller is the Sirloin, which is their cheapest. So, take your most expensive item on your menu, add another expensive item together with it, and add the two prices together minus the sides.

What to do? Mental Anchor your menu. If you need help with that, reach out here.

If you need help coming up with ideas on how to increase sales in your restaurant(s), build a better menu, or develop a restaurant marketing plan, give us a call! Mark Laux can be found here: http://www.hotoperator.com/contact-us/