Updating your restaurant menu can come with some trepidation. Why change it if its working? What if our customers don’t like the new look or the new items? What if the new pricing model scares people away? These are all negative ways to think about launching a new menu for your restaurant.
But don’t fret! If you’re engaged enough to update your menu to keep your customers on their toes or heighten their interest, you’re heading in the right direction.
“Salting” The New Menu
“Salting” is a marketing term which really means creating awareness and desire. You can think of it in simple terms of a movie promotion via a trailer. It “salts” the audience into wanting to see the entire movie, the trailer gives a taste of what the film will be about and what it will be like, generating interest and getting people motivated to see it. Your new menu is no different and is a great promotional opportunity. Use the opportunity for updating your restaurant menu to showcase your chef and keep your regular customer base engaged with your staff and restaurant.
Promote Menu Items That Will Be Eliminated
A new menu often means some items leaving the choices for diners. You can therefore promote items which you know will be leaving the menu as a time sensitive thing for patrons. Wait staff can say things like, “even though this is such a delicious and popular item, it will be leaving the menu for good when our new menu launches”. This creates a sense of urgency as diners will no longer have the option to choose this dish down the road and may be inclined to try it today.
Use The Internet
While updating your restaurant menu, promoting your new menu should be done on all fronts. A press release in the local paper is a great idea, but also take advantage of your social media and internet presence. The fastest way to reach your audience is via the internet, so use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to let people know the new menu launch is coming.
You can start by showing tasteful images of the new dishes and even run a contest asking people what they think a particular dish is. This will start the conversation and build interest in the lead up to the new menu launch. A local press release is a great idea also and can be done with your social media posts and ads.
Offer A Free Drink During Launch Week
You can further make your new menu launch a success by offering an incentive to diners. A great way is to offer a free drink of wine or beer to anyone who orders one of the new menu items. This will give the incentive to diners to try the new dish, not only because of the new dish but also because it will include a drink. Since sometimes people hesitate to try new things, this is a great way to steer them in the right direction. If an alcoholic beverage is not desired offer a dessert.
Hold A Press & Influencers Night
A great way to get some momentum going about your new menu is to invite local influencers and local press to come to a new menu tasting night. They can then go to their followers and show images and their thoughts on what worked well in the new dishes. Updating your restaurant menu is also another great thing to do to get local press. Press outlets can do small write ups in their newspapers websites or in the pages of the local paper itself. This is a great way to get word out to the public as a whole from sources they already know and trust. However, be careful with this. If the press doesn’t like something they may write a negative article
Get Your Staff Excited
Since it will be down to the staff to actually sell or aid people in making menu choices, have a staff tasting party – this is super important when updating your restaurant menu. Here they can taste all the new dishes, learn what they are and be able to sell them in an effective way. The better prepared and the more knowledgeable your staff is, the better your restaurant will function. A new menu launch is no different. Make sure everyone on your team is in the know. And to really get them excited put a 50 dollar bill in the kitchen wall on a score board for the server who sells the most of the new item. You can actually do this when not promoting a new item. Try desserts or appetizers or drinks.
Change Often & Seasonally
There will be, of course, some menu items which you may not change at all and that is totally fine when updating your restaurant menu. But keep your new dishes fresh, seasonal, and as local as possible where you can. A menu that changes regularly can keep patrons on their toes and interested to see what new dishes you have to offer.
Don’t hesitate updating your restaurant menu, it can be a great way to boost sales, increase patronage, and keep things interesting for you, your staff, and your diner,