Many restaurants change their food and drinks menus several times throughout the year. Whether it's introducing seasonal produce or replacing dishes that aren't selling as well with trendier options, rotating your menu keeps diners excited and coming back for more. But, executing a new menu launch is no easy feat. Here are some tips on how to ensure your launch is a success.
We'll be discussing these tips that will help with your menu launch:
Never underestimate the importance of your restaurant's website and social media channels - they are powerful marketing tools. You might be serving the best food in town but that's no use if hungry customers can't find you on the internet because you don't have a website or at least a Facebook page.
Place the announcement of your new menu on the front and centre of your homepage so guests will see it immediately. Post enticing images with clever captions on your social media channels at optimum times but be careful not to over-promote.
No-one needs a real reason to party but everyone loves one. And a new menu launch is certainly a good reason to celebrate. Throw a party either in your restaurant or rent out a venue and serve taster portions of the new dishes. Pass out any new drinks as shot-sized samples. Have a DJ to keep the party mood going. The point is to have fun and celebrate!
Crowd sourcing is a fantastic way to engage with your diners. You can use social media to run your campaign and when done right, you can connect with your customers, make an impact and get your brand out there. The key is to build anticipation and a competition is one of the best ways to do this.
- Announce that you're launching new menu items and create a poll for customers to vote on their favourite dish. The most popular one will be the one that you add to the menu.
- Run a new dish on a specific night and sell that night as the one and only opportunity to try that dish. Encourage diners to vote on their favourite.
- Run food and drinks promotions where diners can claim free dishes if they reference a particular code you've used on your social media pages, website or from emails.
Shout about your menu launch by connecting with bloggers and journalists and letting them review your dishes. Not only will this boost your reach and generate even more buzz, but it also makes your brand seem more trustworthy to your diners. If this reputable journalist or food critic liked your food, then it must be good, right?
It's important to forge a good relationship with your local writers as they will help you get press releases covered and additional brand exposure more easily.
Ensure you have some high quality, professional-looking images to showcase your dishes online and for the press. You can hire a professional photographer, contact local photography schools or do it yourself - if you have the equipment and the skills.
Taking Instagram-worthy shots of your new menu items is easy: pack the table with food in the foreground, have some diners' in the background and use natural lighting.
When your guests order, they will definitely have questions about the menu, especially if it's a new item. Ensure your team fully understand each item - from the price to the ingredients and what it tastes like - so they can sell it to the guests.
As well as being knowledgeable on the menu, make sure every single member of your front of house team is enthusiastic about the changes. Ensure they have a favourite to recommend - and it's not just something you've told them to say! People tend to buy from passionate people so make sure your staff can recommend to their heart's content.
In addition to celebrating the new items, don't forget to have a proper send-off for the items that are leaving. It will prepare your regular customers for the change and encourage those who are passionate about those old items to come and enjoy them one last time.
This is also a great opportunity for you to have a final review of the menu. If there are a lot of objections about a certain dish leaving, then take that into consideration. You can always keep that dish or bring it back as a special to boost sales when you know it's going to be a quiet month. Either way, your customers will feel listened to and become more loyal.
While You're Busy Launching, Don't Forget to Keep Your Team Safe
A new menu launch is exciting business, but in the midst of it all, don't forget about health and safety. Your restaurant team will be on their feet all day, dodging hazards and responding to customer requests with smiles on their faces. This can take a toll. Invest in slip-resistant shoes to keep them safe and comfortable.
Find Out More About the Top Flavour Trends for 2018
Trends come and go, so make sure your chef team is up to date with the latest food trends. Download a FREE copy of our Flavour Trends Guide for restaurants to inspire you for any future menu changes.