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Restaurant Menu Matrix

What is a Restaurant Menu Matrix?

We get calls from restaurant operators all the time. When we tell them we can’t help them until they get me three basic pieces of information, about half of them never call again. That’s even after we explain what a restaurant menu matrix is, why you need one, and why it’s important.

Our thought: “What did they expect? A menu psychic or a menu design-engineer?”

The first step to any great menu is to develop a restaurant menu matrix.

Why you need one: because it’s the best way to see what your guests think of your restaurant. Why it’s important: because it tells you which items are your profit items, and which items you could do without. Every properly design-engineered menu starts with a restaurant menu matrix. And every restaurant menu matrix starts with these three basic pieces of information.

Note:  If you are just opening your restaurant, you won’t have any history. That’s OK, just use potential income as your guide. You’re actually in the best situation if you start out from day one with a properly design-engineered menu.

Restaurant Menu Matrix Example Product Mix Report, Sales Velocity Report or Sales Ticket Count.

We need this information for each item (entrées, sides, appetizers, etc.) sold from the menu. You don’t need the individual items – like how many tomatoes you sold – but rather finished plates out the door. So if you sell burgers and fries, we need to know how many burgers and fries you sold over a given period. I recommend a minimum of three months from your point of service system.

Once you have this information, you can develop a simple SKU rationalization or Menu Matrix. While not difficult, it can be time consuming, especially when doing this by hand. My recommendation is to visit www.hotoperator.com and have a restaurant menu matrix expert help you.. Once you’ve signed up,they’ll walk you through a simple step-by-step process that makes developing and calculating your Menu Matrix information easy and help you analyze the information once it’s completed.

A Restaurant Menu Matrix Tells A Story

Keep in mind, once you have the Menu Matrix, you will have to interpret what it means, which opens up another whole set of problems (you can see why this is a difficult assignment). To the experienced eye, the restaurant Menu Matrix can tell a lot about your brand and the products you sell and how they relate to one another. It’s important to have an expert look over the results and help you make decisions about next steps for your restaurant menu.

  • Do: Keep a track on sales history
  • Don’t: Skip this step
  • Don’t: Wait to engineer your menu
  • Percentages or Plate Contribution?

 Many restaurant operators are concerned with food cost percentages, and that just keeps them looking in the wrong direction and focused on the wrong things. Paying close attention to your plate contribution will make you a wealthy restaurant operator, while focusing on percentages can make you poor. Here’s why: Plate contribution goes to the bank. Percentages go to the accountant.

When we develop a restaurant menu matrix, we look for the overall place contribution each item brings to the restaurant. That helps us focus your restaurant menu design on the items that will bring the highest total dollars to your restaurant. If you’re focused on food cost percentages alone, this will bring your focus on items that won’t bring in a lot of consumer value.

Restaurant Menu Matrix: Get It Now

If you have not had a restaurant menu matrix developed for your restaurant for a while (or ever), it’s a good idea to get one done as soon as possible. Each day you run your restaurant business without expert advice, you run the risk of losing money. This is income you can never get back. Reach out to HotOperator. Their experts have been developing restaurant menu matrices since 1992. They have worked with thousands of restaurant operators all over the country. Email or call: [email protected] or 800-316-3198

Mark & Kelly Laux