5 Pizza Menu Money-Making Musts

Written by Jason Hollis, Training & Implementation Team Lead at Compeat, for Pizza Marketplace

Just by definition, your pizza brand’s menu is simply a list of the dishes available. But that’s really selling the power potential of your menu short since it can be far more important to your business than a mere list of offerings. In fact, your menu is one of the most effective tools you have available for business success.

Just consider your own dining habits. When you go to your favorite restaurant do you always order the same thing? Have you ever tried another dish there? Do you know what influences your decision to order that item?

The fact is that diners, on average, spend just 109 seconds total looking at your menu. And, on average, 80% of a restaurants’ food sales come from only 20% of menu items. These two bits of data drive home the point that it is absolutely critical to your bottom line to make sure your menu’s layout and overall design are all influencing diners to order the the dishes that yield the best results for your business.

The right design can go a long way to affect customers’ buying decisions, as well as increasing your profitability. Here are five pizza menu power plays that maximize the money-making potential in the menu you create:

1. Placement power

When we’re looking at a standard two- or three-fold menu, our eyes typically start in the middle of a page, then move to the top right, then top left in what is referred to as the “eye gaze path.” If you look at this path, you’ll see that the majority of time is spent looking at the top portion of your menu, in a triangular formation.

This is also sometimes called the “Golden Triangle,” because it encompasses some pretty high-value real estate when it comes to menu item placement. For this reason, consider placing high-margin dishes at the center and upper-right corner of your menu. When arranged correctly, a great pizza menu works as a silent salesperson, doing most of the heavy-lifting for you.

2. Maximize the impact of ‘negative space’ 

If a menu is crammed-full with text, customers’ eyes will naturally be drawn to any open spaces. As a result, brands can increase the likelihood that their most profitable menu items will get ordered by creating that “negative space” around those items.

That simple action can automatically boost orders, and as a result, sales of your pizzeria’s most profitable items. And on that note, while photos do help sell certain dishes, they should be used wisely and sparingly. Typically the use of one picture per menu page can increase sales of that item up to 30%.

3. Use a decoy

Consider placing lower-priced, high-profit menu options as decoys right next to higher-priced menu items. For example, box your higher-end offerings right below some lower-priced fare that may be lower in purchase price, but has a higher margin than those higher-end dishes. By doing this simple action, guests who order the more economical fare feel like they’ve found a deal and your brand racks up a more profitable sale.

4. Remember the magic menu number: 7

Work to limit the number of items in each menu section to no more than seven items. Any more than that “magic seven” creates a so-called “paradox of choice” for guests since more options increase the anxiety customers feel to make a choice, leading them to feel overwhelmed or confused.

As a result, many will simply default to ordering an item they’ve had before thinking, “Well, I don’t want to choose unwisely and spend too much money, so I guess I’ll settle for something cheap and safe.”

5. Use color to influence

Colors evoke a whole range of customer reactions since it’s been shown that customer are driven subconsciously by what they see. In fact, colors can sometimes even speak louder than words, so the careful use (and sometimes even outright avoidance) of certain colors on your pizza menu can be essential in driving purchase decisions.

Here are how different primary colors can impact diners’ emotions:

  • Red — This is the color of action and passion, so limited use of red can motivate customers to order an associated item.
  • Orange — This appetite-stimulating color can be ideal in encouraging impulse in menu item selection.
  • Yellow — This color of “Yield” signs and traffic “caution” lights is an attention-getter that makes us feel happy, so when it is used legibly (watch out for light shades and avoid yellow completely in dimly lit restaurants) it can be an excellent way to capture diner attention.
  • Green — This “freshness” color can increase the appeal of salads and seasonal menu options.
  • Blue — Unless your pizza brand has a very strong connection with seafood, this hue can make guests feel tired, so limit its use.

These pointers should give you some menu design parameters. But, I recommend designing test menu versions to see which combinations of methods work best for your pizza brand. Ask friends, family and regulars to order from the new menu to evaluate whether your new menu marketing tool is a success.

Finally, remember to take time to train staff on the new menu design and which menu items are priorities. This knowledge will help them guide customers to more profitable dishes to improve customer experience while boosting your bottom line.

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