Less Really is More: In Favor of Smaller Menus

In a world where it seems like you might reach more customers by having so much variety you appeal to everyone, it might seem shocking to consider that a smaller menu can actually work in your favor. Research, however, shows that it’s a great time to consider tightening up your menu and keeping offerings in a smaller wheelhouse.

smaller-menu-exampleLearn from Experience

In an effort to capitalize on the success McDonalds had with offering so many options, Burger King tried the same tactic to expand their menu, but watched it fall flat. So, in an effort to revive the menu quickly, management decided to narrow the menu to things that could be made quickly and preferably, with good margins.

Burger King realized too many options could mean confusion or time delays with employees preparing the food, while focus on products that can be made quickly and easily allows customers to have a better experience overall. As a result, Burger King changed their menu to focus on fewer products that could be produced efficiently, and they saw the payoff very quickly.

It’s not just Burger King, either. Smaller menus are definitely the wave of the future in fast casual and QSRs. Some prime examples:

  • Tony Roma’s has gone from 92 options to 60
  • IHop has dropped from 200 selections to 170
  • BJ’s restaurant has gone from 181 options to 150 selections and hopes to cut more

Overall, the top 500 restaurant chains have decreased menu options to the tune of 7.1% in the last year alone.

Fewer Options Puts Restaurants in Control

When you have a select menu of your best flavorful options, you can make a bold splash and focus on key items. Fresh ingredients and tasty options make it easier to promote certain products at various times of the day or year. Maximize your statement by getting the most out of your digital menu board using pictures and animations to draw in a customer’s attention.

The reality is that consumers, especially millennials, are now more focused on specialty concepts. Some restaurants are even losing market share to competitors with smaller menus. Since focusing on a smaller menu is win-win for diners and the company, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your menu mix.

Avoid Diner Decision Fatigue

You’re actually doing your customers a favor if you have fewer options, particularly if you often take a big cut in the dinner crowd. Why? Research shows that humans pay a biological price making decisions, and later in the day being faced with too many options can actually make people cranky or confused. If your diners are running low on energy, you can make life easier for them by only presenting them with a few options, preferably on a digital menu board with tantalizing pictures. Plus, with a shorter menu, it’s simpler for diners to remember the dish or dishes that bring them back to your restaurant.

If you’re thinking about making the switch from a static menu board to a digital one, you should know that most restaurant chains in this position use this transition as an opportunity to cut down on menu offerings. Because a digital menu is such a different medium than a static, it’s the perfect time to rethink your entire menu mix, promotional schedule and new product roll-out strategy.

Save on Franchisee Food Costs

Any effort to keep food costs down is worth it, but having a smaller menu means that your franchisees don’t have to keep as much food on hand. This makes it easier to ensure that all food is being used by the expiration date and means less storage space, too. Keep it simple to capitalize on a smaller menu!

Debut your new smaller menu with customized options if you really want to engage and capture today’s diner. You’ll be catering directly to what the market desires and making things easier for franchisees, too.