One thing that fast food restaurants have already figured
out is that they have to hit both ends of the financial spectrum if they want
to meet their sales goals. Sure, just about every fast-food eatery sports a
“dollar menu” these days, but most also have premium items on the board. This
balance is what it takes to fill a restaurant’s dining tables, and it is a
policy you should embrace too.
Low End Leaders
Beyond the world of fast food, fast-casual restaurants have
learned to include happy hour selections every day. $2, $3, and $5 items are
common, as are special drinks. Even if someone doesn’t want a full meal, these
low-priced items encourage them to spend something on a bite to eat.
Advertising such specials is a good way to get fence-sitters through the door.
Don’t worry too much about a profit on such items. Remember,
the goal of this side of the menu is to get people coming in on a regular
basis. It is also a great place to try out something new, by serving it in
small portions and seeing how people like it.
Top Tier Tastes
Whether it is a new, fancy burger or some cutting edge new
taste, this is where you balance the low profits that your “dollar menu” brings
Fast food restaurants are always trying out new dishes. They
might add a new type of bacon to their burgers, switch up the bun or even bring
in a new meat. The successful items return time and again, or stick around.
Think of McDonald’s McRib sandwich: it is pricier than most items on the menu,
available for a short period of time and has a remarkably large following.
You can do much the same thing. All you need to do is watch
food trends. Right now local sourcing is big. Can you hook up with a local meat
supplier? Bring in greens from a local farm? Incorporate Asian flavors or pump
up the heat on an old standard? These innovations are extremely popular at this
time, and people will pay a bit more for something they think is new.
Keep Food Costs Stable
Even if you plan on playing with your menu so as to tap into
both the top and bottom tiers of spending, keep your general food costs stable.
While beef is already in the news as being more expensive this year, other
trends in the market will offer relief. Customers are aware of the fact that
you might have to raise prices a bit, but try to stay constant once you have
done so. Whatever it takes, avoid raising prices repeatedly throughout the
year. Balance costs by offering different, lower priced meats and keep your
Once you have appealed to people by offering foods at all
price points, you will find that it is easier to keep your restaurant dining
tables full. Keeping existing guests will always be less expensive than trying
to get new people through the doors every day.