Now that we're in spring 2018, it could be a great time for you to look at your menu and see if there are any changes you'd want to make. More specifically, it's new flavour combinations that are going to take the year by storm. However, the introduction of these popular new combinations, dishes and flavours can't be rushed. Here's how you should introduce them to your customers.
What To Do
Host One-Off Events
Consider working alongside the owners or manager of the restaurant to host one-off events. This might be seasonal or even a handful of times per year.
At these events, you're able to provide customers and those interested with more information on some of the changes you might be making, along with some of the exciting additions you'd be making to the menu. This way, they're able to see and taste these flavours and infusions rather than being surprised one day.
Offer Discounted or Free New Dishes
According to UpServe, at least a quarter of customers who tried a free sample in 2017 ended up buying the product. This is a useful approach to use, as customers that are hesitant to try new combinations could be persuaded if it's free and it's something they enjoy eating, as opposed to taking the big risk of implementing changes without gauging interest.
Image Credit: The Independent
Host a Trial Before Implementation
Think along the lines of what Wagamama did in the UK. They announced that they were going to be trialling a new vegan menu last year - which is another popular trend that's growing. So not only should you consider a trial, but advertise this beforehand so you can pique customers' interest so they could consider trying your new flavours and ideas and they'll know what's changing.
Once you have gained knowledge of which combinations are popular and which aren't - and whether it's worth changing the menu to incorporate these new ideas - then full implementation is a good idea.
What To Avoid
Don't Make Combinations and Ideas a Surprise
A study from Tech One Stop shows that a satisfied customer tells nine people about their positive experience, but one dissatisfied customer will tell 22 people about their negative experience.
Customer happiness is the most important thing to take into consideration when crafting new ideas and combinations. That's why you shouldn't randomly add new dishes and combinations to surprise your customers, especially if their favourite menu items have been taken off or aren't available.
My rhubarb in the garden is not ready yet so I was tempted in by a bunch of forced Yorkshire rhubarb while doing a shop yesterday. I kept a close eye on them as I steamed them. Then poached a stalk so that I could make a syrup to go on top. Added some toasted almonds for a bite and served it all with homemade yogurt. #homemadeyogurt #forcedrhubarb #yorkshirerhubarb #rhubarb #nofilters
A post shared by @ mariadernikos on
Instagram post on how rhubarb is the main focus point about this combination
Don't Use Every Trend and Combination At Once
Instead, find out which trends are proving to be most popular and ones which customers want, and focus on perfecting them instead. One month it might be edible petals and rosewater which are popular but, by the end of summer, it could be a flavour like maple which is proving to be trendy. By being selective, you'd be creating a feeling of exclusivity.
Don't Assume The Rest of The Staff Will Know The Details
As the head chef, you'll be hands-on with the creative new ideas and combinations you're trying. However, you can't make the assumption that the waitstaff will know everything. New combinations mean new knowledge, and not every waiter or waitress will be able to assist customers with the fine details of what's in each new dish.
If you're introducing too many new dishes then it makes their job much more difficult. If you space them out, it gives them time to soak in the knowledge where they can go into depth to sell your new combinations.
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