Now that you are all-set to re-open your restaurant after the COVID wave, you must be having a lot of concerning thoughts in your mind. 

For instance, how you are going to attract new customers, how you will make your food more saleable, how can customers better understand your concept and many such questions will jostle up your mind. 

What if we say that you can find your answers in just one solution? Yes, if you get this one thing right, you can run your business smoothly.

So, what’s that one thing?

Have you ever considered your food menu as your main sales tool? If not, now is the right time to make a well-informed decision. 

“79% of people try different dishes in the same restaurant when they like the menu.” – 

Having an effective menu is the most prominent parameter to make your customers regular. It can say a lot about your fast food restaurant and its specialization without any ads. 

On average, a customer spends only 109 seconds analyzing the menu. In that period of time, he/she scans the listed dishes, understands the categories, reads the description, and checks the prices before making an order. So, everything you put on your menu, from general food information to tiny details, is vital to your sales.

But is your menu good enough to keep your customers binded and give orders?

How can you know that? Well, that’s where you will need to conduct menu analysis.

Performing menu analysis is of great importance in order to create the best menu possible at any given time. It requires you to engage in fast food restaurant menu engineering and perform multiple levels of analysis to get a winning menu. Menu analysis involves analyzing how your menu functions and performs by identifying each item’s potential.

It is a continuous process and doesn’t have to be difficult. There are always shifts in trends, whether it is food or design style. While the quality of the food is of utmost prominence, everything from the font you choose to the price, item descriptions, and even the plates you serve food in will determine your fast food restaurant’s success.

With that being said, in this guide, we have shared the tried and tested menu analysis tips for fast food restaurants that will help you get a winning strategy.

Menu Analysis: An Overview

Menu analysis or menu analyzing is a broad term that focuses on understanding how your fast food restaurant functions in terms of performance and pricing. 

Essentially, it encompasses an understanding of the style, fonts, and copy used on your tangle menu. It also includes the ingredients you choose to use for the recipes. 

In short, menu analysis is the steps taken to determine the unique selling point of each item on the menu, and ultimately how you enhance your sales and success.

But you should not take menu analysis lights as it holds great prominence in restaurant marketing. It is a continuous process and requires a deep understanding of your brand and performance metrics like sales volume, cost of goods sold, and gross profit.

It is a lot of work and this might be the reason why the majority of restaurateurs don’t take time to analyze their menus. A study reported that only 31% of restaurateurs update their menu on a regular basis.

Another study reveals that menu analysis can increase your sales by 27%, in addition to improving your customers’ attitudes towards the restaurant, attitudes towards the food, and intentions towards repatronage.

Menu engineering is a part of menu analysis that incorporates working on the design and pricing of your menu and its offerings. Menu engineering is a quantitative and qualitative exercise that calls on you to understand the most popular and profitable menu items and strategically put them on your menu under a beautiful font and enticing descriptions. Simply put, it is about taking action to achieve significant profits.

Why Menu Analysis?

One of the biggest reasons to go for menu analysis is that you get to know your customers. Things like how high their expectations are, what they will order, and how much they are willing to spend can all be determined easily with robust menu analysis.

Above all, you get to know your competition better. For example, suppose you discover that you have the most expensive pasta in town. You have the opportunity to work it to your advantage in different ways. 

For starters, you can do what everyone else does – bring down the price to sell more pasta. Or you can write down a nice description mentioning the ingredients and convince people why it is a must-have. It is all about working consistently with your brand. 

If you cannot cut down the price of the pasta, convince the customers it is a specialty, and they will not find anything like this anywhere in the world.

It helps you in differentiating your product while keeping your price the same. Menu analysis enables you to achieve all this.

Menu Analysis Tips to Fast Food Restaurants

Let’s get to the most exciting part of the blog. It is important to keep a few tips handy to understand your menu better and improve it. 

Please note that your menu is more than just a piece of paper to show what dishes you have on offer. A well-designed menu can boost the entire dining experience, improve the perceived value of your brand, influence customers’ buying decisions, and ultimately increase your profits.

The following are some tips you can implement while doing menu analysis to improve your bottom line:

#1 Categorize the Menu Items based on Popularity

No, we are not talking about food categories like the main course, appetizers, desserts, entrees, and beverages. Menu engineering is guided by four different categories. They are:

1.    Stars
2.    Plough-Horses
3.    Puzzles
4.    Dogs

If it is your first time with menu analysis, these terms can be a little confusing. Don’t worry; we have got you covered. These categories represent different levels of profitability and popularity of your dishes.

●     Stars: Highly profitable and very popular dishes

●     Plow-Horses: Low profitability but popular

●     Puzzles: Not so popular but highly profitable

●     Dogs: Neither profitable nor popular

So, start with doing a sales and cost data analysis to classify all your dishes based on these quadrants. Then categorize your menu items for high-profit impact. 

1.    Draw your customers’ attention with ‘Stars’ menu items. Make these items stand out through smart placement.

2.    Because ‘Plow-Horses’ items are popular, you would want to keep them on your menu. These dishes might be the ones drawing customers’ attention in the first place. Try to make profitable versions of these dishes.

3.    While ‘Puzzles’ are not that popular, they are highly profitable. So, you need to see how you can highlight these dishes and make them climb the ladder to become stars. Smart placement will work best in your interest.

4.    You would want to limit promoting ‘Dogs’ category dishes for now. Nevertheless, if they appeal to a specific customer segment, try to improvise these dishes and make popular versions out of them.

Get your menu classifications straight. It is the first step towards menu analysis. Make sure you do it right.

#2 Work on Menu Aesthetics

Will you dine in a restaurant that has a bland and unappealing menu? Probably not. So you know that the aesthetic appeal of your menu has got prominence.

It encompasses everything from the content itself to the choice of colors and  the font. Creating the right aesthetics can draw in customers’ attention. Your customers will remember you if your menu is well-thought-out, but they will also recall if it is poorly designed, worn-out, particularly unimpressive, or disorganized. The best part is that aesthetics can encourage them to make pricier decisions.

These are the signficant aesthetics of menu design:

●     Font: Fonts can evoke particular associations and experiences. They have different personalities that can give you confidence, create trust, mistrust, make things seem easier to do, or make food taste better. The right font can change the meaning of words right before your eyes. Fonts add to the overall aesthetics of the menu and promote readability. Your fonts should be a blend of style, uniqueness, and legibility. Don’t over experiment with your fonts and make your menu items look unclear. The font you choose should reflect the ethnicity, quality, and cost of your cuisine. That is, your font should reflect the mood, lighting, decor, and creativity of your restaurant. Also, consider the diner demographics before printing out the menu. Children respond to the stimulation of fun graphics and multiple colors, while older customers appreciate larger typefaces. 

●     Copy: Names of the dishes and their descriptions, and even prices, are crucial parts of the menu copy. The copy can influence customers’ decisions, including the view of your fast food restaurant as a whole. The language and tone you use for the copy should play to the customers’ senses. Use vibrant wordings that can make their mouths water even before they make an order. 

●     Styles: The style you choose will represent an extension of your brand and works as a marketing medium for your fast food restaurant. The style basically involves the layout of the menu and color. Choose a layout that is not confusing at all. You can use colors to get people to buy. Different colors trigger different experiences and associations, just like fonts. For example, orange stimulates the appetite, and green indicates that the food is fresh.

●     Icons: If your restaurant offers meals compatible with a specialized diet, like vegan dishes, non-vegetarian, gluten-free, etc., then you have to make them stand out. By placing small, comprehensible icons with each item will help you streamline the whole fast-food menu. As a result, people can easily distinguish, and customers with special dietary needs can easily skim through the menu.

Aesthetics will penetrate your customer base at different levels.

#3 Pricing Style and Menu Descriptions

Pricing style and menu descriptions can influence customers’ decisions. With just the pricing style and menu descriptions, you can set the whole mood for your fast food restaurant. While some restaurants prefer using full descriptions for their menu items, some prefer not to and just list the ingredients. It is up to you how you go with it. The style you pick will reflect your restaurant and speak to the customers. With item descriptions, you allow your customers to imagine and paint a picture of the dish before they order it.

As far as pricing is concerned, there is a psychological influence to it, similar to fonts and colors. For starters, removing the currency sign ($) from the price may encourage the customers to spend more. You are removing the perceived value of the meal, making the guests feel they are not spending money.


So, here you go! All the menu analysis tips for fast food restaurants that you must start implementing in your business. 

You must understand that menu analysis is not a single man’s task but a team’s effort. Don’t try to take everything on your shoulders and end up falling. 

Make conservations with your chef, manager, the waiting staff, and everyone involved with your business to analyze the trends. Ask them to put forward their advice to make the menu great again.

It is a long and continuous process, and you will have to try out different things to see what works and what won’t. But, overall, it is an excellent strategy to make your restaurant stand out from the competition.

So, when are you starting your menu analysis? Do let us know in the comment section, we would love to know your progress.    

Looking for a better way to manage your fast food menu? Click below to schedule a demo with EagleOwl’s professionals to see how software can improve your process.

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