As the restaurant industry grapples with rising food costs, inflation, and supply chain instability, consumers are increasingly feeling that they’re paying more for less.
For strategic restaurant leaders, menu engineering and pricing strategies are top of mind. And right now, traditional tactics just won’t cut it. Relying on instincts and waiting on monthly sales numbers can cost you valuable time — and revenue in the long run.
Today’s industry challenges demand innovative and proactive solutions. So how can restaurants manage their margins and keep customers coming back for more?
First, capture feedback at the dish level. Second, make informed decisions based on your customers’ value perception of your menu.
Dish-level data allows operators to monitor menu performance, based on real-time customer data, making it easy to spot areas of improvement and make changes to increase customer satisfaction.
Consider, for instance, receiving real-time data after a customer’s meal from a customer experience management platform like Yumpingo that reveals your new fried chicken sandwich is scoring low for both “look” and “taste.” This feedback allows you to take immediate action and work with your back-of-house team to adjust how the meal is prepared and plated. Making small changes like increasing the frying temperature, shortening the cooking time, modifying the batter recipe, or making sure your signature sauce doesn’t soak into the sandwich bun before it gets to the customer could make a big difference. After all, no one likes soggy bread!
Restaurants can also use dish-level data to gain better visibility into their operations. As costs continue to climb, restaurants can use data to determine whether less expensive ingredients will impact the customer experience. For example, you may find that your customers are content with frozen or pre-cut french fries, versus pricier hand-cut fries.
This type of data can also play a critical role in menu pricing strategies. Rather than raise prices across your entire menu, portion and value data can empower operators to make strategic changes that protect margins without impacting customer sentiment. This might mean raising the price of a few items with higher perceived value or bundling items as a combo.
Dish-level data allows operators to be proactive and strategic in improving food scores, adjusting operations, and pricing menus with actual guest feedback at the center of those decisions. And the ability to capture and act on that data in real time can help operators minimize risk and protect their business for the long term.
George Wetz is COO and cofounder of Yumpingo, a next-generation customer experience management platform that empowers hospitality brands, including Texas Roadhouse, California Pizza Kitchen, and Nando’s, to make high-impact decisions with unique clarity, confidence, and speed. In addition to overseeing general company operations, he also leads the product and engineering teams.