Menu engineering is a proven practice of analyzing and strategically designing a restaurant menu to maximize profits.
Strategically designing your menu for pick-up and delivery can be a bit more challenging. With the traditional method focusing on quantifiable profitability and popularity metrics, menu engineering for restaurant delivery takes other factors into consideration: feasibility and practicality.
To help you get started, we’ve created a Delivery Menu Engineering Worksheet along with this guide to menu engineering for restaurant delivery basics to help you get started.
With food costs, supply shortages, and other outside influences impacting the way the food game is played these days, it’s critical to make menu engineering an ongoing and continuous business strategy. Evaluating–and re-evaluating–the performance of items on your online menu on a regular basis is a best practice for restaurant delivery.
First, let’s examine what menu engineering for restaurant delivery is and how to use it in your online menu design for maximum profitability.
Menu Engineering for Restaurant Delivery Step-by-Step
STEP 1: SELECT A TIME PERIOD
The first step in creating a Delivery Engineering Worksheet is to select the timeframe to analyze. You can analyze your menu weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually — and even all of the above.
Updating your menu four times a year will help to give you a clear sense of how your menu items are affecting costs and sales.
STEP 2: INPUT YOUR DATA INTO THE WORKSHEET
After choosing a time period, the next thing you’ll need to do is record the items on your menu. If you just want to optimize your delivery menu, only list those.
Fill in Column A with all of the menu items from your pick-up and delivery menu
Fill in Column B with the amount sold via delivery. Do not include in-house sales.
Fill in Column C with food costs
Insert Menu Price in Column D
Step 3: CALCULATE DATA
Column E: Food Cost Percentage
Column F: Contribution Margin
Column G: Total Food Cost
Column H: Total Menu Sales Formula
Column I: Total Contribution Margin
Column J: Profit Category
Column K: Popularity Category
Column L: Item Category
The menu engineering graph in the menu engineering template organizes your menu items into Stars, Puzzles, Workhorses, and Dogs, four words that can be used to design your online menu and analyze which items should stay, go or be adjusted.
Star = high popularity + high popularity
Puzzles = high profit / low popularity
Dogs = low popularity/ low profitability
Workhorse = low profitability / high popularity
Star items should be included on your online menu. Items with “dog” status should be eliminated (at least until conditions change).
If included in your menu, workhorses and puzzles should be highlighted in a way that attracts attention to their best features, and away from their least. For example, if an item is pricey but popular, make photos more prominent than the price. If an item is meant to act as a plowhorse, feature them close to your stars.
Upsell your challenges by including them in pop-ups that appear during the checkout process. Example: “Don’t forget dessert! Try our tiramisu.”
STEP 4: EVALUATE FOR DELIVERY
There are quite a few factors that might not have been considered when you designed your original menu, so it’s critical to reconsider which items are feasible and practical. These factors, though not necessarily quantifiable, are considered based on which items travel well and which item ingredients are available.
If an item falls into the STAR category, for example, but supply chain shortages are making the ingredients difficult to obtain, or if seasonal factors make certain items not deliverable (summer/ice cream, for example) that might send that menu item into the delivery doghouse.
By Eileen Strauss