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How to Implement Menu Change: It's in the Details

In a recent discussion with a colleague we were discussing the pitfalls and problems large-scale food service establishments have with adopting new menu items. This got me thinking- it's all about aiming before you fire-right? Seems like we NEED A PLAN! (and I LOVE a good plan) So... Here we go!

Implementing new menu items into a large organization requires careful planning and execution to ensure a successful launch. Here is a detailed plan to guide you through the process:

  1. Research and Concept Development: a. Conduct market research to identify current food trends, customer preferences, and popular menu items in the industry. b. Analyze the organization's target market, demographics, and customer feedback to understand their preferences and needs. c. Brainstorm and develop new food concepts that align with the organization's brand and target market.

  2. Menu Planning and Item Selection: a. Create a menu development team consisting of chefs, nutritionists, and key stakeholders. b. Review the existing menu and identify gaps or areas for improvement. c. Select a diverse range of food items, considering different dietary preferences (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free) and incorporating a balance of popular and unique options. d. Ensure that the new menu items are aligned with the organization's brand, vision, and values.

  3. Recipe Development and Testing: a. Assign chefs to develop recipes for the selected menu items. b. Focus on flavor, presentation, nutritional value, and cost-effectiveness during recipe development. c. Conduct rigorous recipe testing to ensure consistent quality, taste, and portion sizes. d. Seek feedback from the menu development team, staff members, and a select group of customers to refine and improve the recipes.

  4. Sourcing Ingredients and Supplier Management: a. Identify reliable suppliers for the new ingredients required. b. Establish partnerships or negotiate contracts with suppliers to ensure consistent quality and timely delivery. c. Consider factors such as sustainability, local sourcing, and organic options when selecting suppliers, aligning with the organization's values.

  5. Cost Analysis and Pricing: a. Conduct a comprehensive cost analysis for each menu item, considering the cost of ingredients, labor, packaging, and overhead expenses. b. Determine the ideal pricing strategy based on the cost analysis, target profit margins, and competitive analysis. c. Consider offering introductory promotions or bundle deals to attract customers to try the new menu items.

  6. Staff Training and Education: a. Develop training materials and conduct training sessions for kitchen staff and servers. b. Ensure that the staff is familiar with the new menu items, their ingredients, preparation methods, and allergen information. c. Train servers to effectively communicate the new menu offerings and answer customer questions. d. Provide ongoing support and refresher training as needed.

  7. Marketing and Promotion: a. Develop a marketing plan to promote the new menu items. b. Utilize various channels, such as social media, email marketing, website updates, and in-store signage, to generate awareness. c. Highlight the unique features, flavors, and health benefits of the new menu items in marketing materials. d. Consider hosting launch events, tastings, or collaborations with influencers to create buzz and attract attention.

  8. Soft Launch and Feedback Collection: a. Conduct a soft launch of the new menu items, initially offering them to a limited audience or during specific times. b. Encourage customers to provide feedback through comment cards, online surveys, or feedback forms. c. Monitor customer satisfaction, analyze feedback, and make necessary adjustments to improve the menu items or operational processes.

  9. Full-scale Launch and Evaluation: a. Based on the feedback received, make any required modifications to the menu items or their presentation. b. Execute a full-scale launch of the new menu items, ensuring that all staff members are prepared and well-informed. c. Continuously monitor sales, customer feedback, and operational challenges to evaluate the success of the new menu items. d. Make data-driven

So there you have it... At least from where I see things.


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Michael Moore
Michael Moore

Hey Chef, for steps 4 and 5, do you do create and test the entire menu and then complete the cost analysis, or are you more aligned with costing each recipe as you go to make sure you're not creating an unrealistic menu (in terms of cost) after all of the R&D time. Just curious if you've found one to be more effective than the other.


Carol Arnold
Carol Arnold

Great plan Chris - It would be interesting to get feedback from a client-application.

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