The Perfect Picks | Optimizing Menu Items to Protect Profitability

By Dean Harrison

The restaurant industry in Canada is highly competitive as guest preferences and options continue to evolve post-pandemic. One way to stand out with guests while increasing repeat traffic is by offering a menu that resonates with their palates and wallets. Curating the right menu mix is essential for attracting a new and diverse customer base; if you’re strategic about your offerings, increased profitability will follow.

Menu engineering involves condensing your property’s inventory to eliminate unnecessary slow-moving ingredients while focusing on high-demand items. Restauranteurs must analyze sales data, guest feedback, and regional trends to identify and push their most profitable dishes while improving inventory management and enhancing the overall guest experience. Menu optimization enables operators to allocate internal resources effectively, simplify procurement processes, and boost operational efficiency; this approach also helps onboard new staff easily. As the cost of ingredients and labour continue to rise, it’s essential to continuously evaluate profit, not just as a percentage but also in dollars, to accurately assess the impact of new menu items on your business.

The Power of Data

Leveraging your restaurant analytics is essential to make informed decisions about menu innovation. Restaurants can utilize many technologies to gather information about customer preferences, order patterns and digital user journeys, and identify popular dayparts. This information can guide decision-making processes, helping identify underperforming menu items that need to be replaced and highlighting in-demand dishes to push. Operators must routinely analyze their data while monitoring trends to continually evolve their menu offerings, increasing traffic and driving profitability.

Regional Preferences

Canada is vastly diverse, with unique agricultural offerings, culinary traditions, and regional animal protein options. To optimize your restaurant’s menu mix, consider the specific preferences of your guests and what out-of-home restaurant spending is on average for your market area. Fresh local seafood is highly coveted and expected on the East Coast, while restaurants in Alberta might have a higher demand and guest expectation for high-quality beef offerings. Analyzing local market research, executing digital guest surveys, and continuously monitoring feedback will provide valuable insights into regional preferences, allowing for increased optimization during menu development.

Supplier Collaboration

Collaborate closely with local or national suppliers to ensure accurate demand forecasting and timely deliveries. Build strong relationships with reliable suppliers who can provide high-quality products at competitive prices. Ensure you work closely with suppliers on any menu claims which could lead to increased clout and profitability, such as local or sustainable seafood sourcing claims or beef accreditations.

Dietary Requirements

Canada’s population of newcomers from around the globe is growing quickly. In recent years, dietary requirements have significantly influenced consumer choices. Many Canadians follow specific diets such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or keto. Incorporating diverse options will attract a broader customer base. Routinely updating and promoting these options on your menu can help restaurants attract new guests and increase profitability.

Striking the right balance between classic guest favourites and innovation is an ongoing challenge; understand that you must have the right mix of reliable favourites and new items to keep revenue flowing. Continually striving to provide a unique and exciting menu while focusing on dollar profit will help foster guest loyalty. At the same time, bring fresh faces to your tables and counters this summer.