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    A Menu to Increase Food & Beverage Sales

    Menuboard optimization is a c-store’s most powerful sales tool.

    By Tom Cook, King-Casey

    The menuboard is a convenience store’s most powerful sales tool when it comes to foodservice.

    A menuboard that has been optimized and strategically designed gets customers to spend more. An optimized menuboard can also shave precious seconds off the customer’s order time, resulting in increased throughput and customer satisfaction.

    But before you decide what goes on your menuboard, where items will be placed and long before you decide what the menuboard will look like, you need to create a menu strategy.

    THE MISSING LINK

    A menu strategy is the missing link to menuboard optimization and maximizing food and beverage sales and profits. Many c-stores, as well as quick-service and fast-casual chains don’t have a cohesive and well-documented menu strategy linked to specific business objectives.

    As a result, strategy is not guiding what products are offered, their priorities and how the menuboard should be designed to get the desired business results.

    Creating a menu strategy is the critical first step in developing strong and effective menuboards. A sound menu strategy results from following a disciplined process.

    Before starting to work out the details of your new or enhanced menu strategy, there are business-centric inputs that need to be taken into consideration. You need to analyze inputs such as: market needs, competition, economic climate, technology, operations and regulations.

    As to regulations, all c-stores must clearly understand and consider the new regulation put forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration taking effect in December 2015. This rule requires calorie information be listed on menuboards in chain restaurants, similar retail food establishments and vending machines with 20 or more locations.

    A sound menu strategy begins by deciding what business objectives you want to accomplish from your menu and establishing specific targets and metrics for each objective.

    The next step is to identify and prioritize your food and beverage platforms. This step will require a thorough understanding of where your sales and profits are coming from now and where underleveraged opportunities lie. These opportunities are things you can leverage to help achieve your menu’s business objectives. What differentiates you from your competitors? These should be heightened to your advantage.

    Conversely, identifying weaknesses in your menu will also positively impact your business results. Lastly, identify threats and risks. These are the outside forces that could prevent you from reaching your business objectives. You need to clearly understand these as they may ultimately impact your menu strategy.

    THE SEVEN ABSOLUTES OF MENUBOARD OPTIMIZATION

    Having a well-thought-out menu strategy paves the way to optimized menuboards. There are seven critical strategies and tactics that collectively result in best practice menuboard strategy and design. These are universal absolutes for achieving meaningful and measurable business results.

    Absolute 1: Leverage Hot Spots  

    Years of research has revealed that consumers tend to look at certain “zones” of the menuboard first and more frequently. These are the menuboard’s hot spots. They must be capitalized on to increase sales and speed throughput.

    Identify where the hot spots are on your menuboard (they vary based on your customer flow and order process). Are your bestselling, highest-margin offerings taking advantage of the hot spots? Reposition menu items with this in mind to increase sales of high-priority and high-margin products.

    By Tom Cook, King-Casey
    • About Tom Cook Tom Cook is principal of King-Casey, where his primary responsibility is to oversee and direct the strategic and operations management of the retail consulting and design firm. This entails King-Casey’s core business processes: client service delivery, client business development, design and implementation delivery, new service development and new business development. Cook’s expertise in branding, marketing and strategic retail design spans a broad range of clients and industries.

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