Engineering Menus to Control Costs

In order to help offset the impact of increasing food costs there is an alternative to the unpopular step of simply raising your menu prices.  Consider instead a concept often referred to as “menu engineering”.  Under this common sense approach, menus are evaluated seasonally to help determine the most popular and cost effective items on the menu.  To begin, you will need to review your point-of-sale system data reflecting menu items sold and you will need to know your “theoretical” or target cost for each menu item.  The idea is to adjust your menu offerings to eliminate the more unpopular and unprofitable items, ideally replacing them with more profitable and presumably also more popular ones.

Introducing daily market-driven specials that meet this criteria can also help.  The goal of course, is to maintain your overall food cost ratio at its budgeted level even when food costs rise.  Periodically purging your menu of slower-moving items can also help improve food cost by reducing spoilage.  In some instances, reducing the number of menu items or simplifying their preparation can not only save on food cost but labor as well.  Of course, we recognize that this process must not run counter to the expectations of your membership, whose satisfaction is ultimately the foundation of any successful club.

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