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Today’s menus can come in all shapes and sizes and in a variety of formats. They serve as a listing of what food and drinks are available, but also as a portfolio showcasing everything from corporate beliefs to food. Before getting too technical, let’s talk about what should be on your menu to drive sales. Start with daily, weekly and monthly specials and rotate in holiday events when applicable. Menus should be updated frequently to highlight seasonal dishes, farm-to-table options, and specialties of the kitchen. Updating frequently also provides opportunities to remove options that don’t sell during certain times of the year. For example, hearty beef stew won’t be as popular in the middle of July. Consistently updated menus also encourage experimentation in the kitchen. You can track data from customer orders to see local tastes and better suit your target market over time.

You should also tie-in loyalty programs to drive customer retention. Studies show those restaurants that tailor their offerings to match customer needs and promote customer loyalty gives customers a more personal experience. More adventurous restaurants are incorporating contests, event previews, and interactive games into their menus as well. National chains alter menus to reflect significant events in each operating region and local food choices.

Include promotions on the menu and link those to table tents, rack cards, window decals, and other signage throughout the restaurant to deliver consistent and relevant messaging to customers. Consider campaigns that encourage social media engagement or games to entertain patrons (or keep the kids occupied). Today’s diners aren’t looking for just a meal, but an experience.

Taking advantage of frequent menu updates isn’t as expensive as you’d think. Technology has increased the affordability and sustainability of shorter runs, reduced the cost of frequent printing, and helped enhance the dining experience. When it comes to your menus, don’t be afraid to change things up to find what works best for your restaurant. It will take time to find a winning formula, but hopefully, this guide can help you find what can boost your sales.