Chili’s Reminds Us: It’s Time To Examine Your Restaurant Menu

The big news this week was Chili’s announcing they were reducing their menu by 40%.

As a loyal Chili’s customer (love the burgers & ribs), I’ll say it’s about time. Dining there is an exercise in decision-making and in shuffling the 5 or so different menus just to make for some decent table room.

What Chili’s is now planning to do is something that I – along with Bill Marvin, The Restaurant Doctor, have been preaching about for the past 3 years in our workshops.

Chili’s has just come along and given, what we’ve been recommending, some credibility and confirmation that we’ve been right all along and if you followed our advice, you’re now getting the benefits of stronger profits.

Besides enhancing the customer experience, whittling down your menu decreases labor costs, food costs, inventory, errors, wastage and confusion. It also decreases that time the server hovers over the customers while they go through your “War & Peace” menu, trying to determine what to order.

If you haven’t taken our advice yet, then take the message that Chili’s is sending out, even if your menu is three to four pages. I guarantee you there are products on your menu right now that aren’t worth having, and they’re taking up valuable menu real estate. Note: Houston’s restaurants built their success on a one pager. It can be done.

Next Steps: When was the last time you seriously examined your menu for maximum sales and profitability? How much of your menu – which is your prime sales tool – is devoted to the dogs – items that are low sales/low profits. Cut them loose.

You need to analyze your menu four times a year because people eat differently in each season.

And of course maybe the best reason of all to analyze your menu is the profits you’re ‘giving away.’

And how do I know? I reduced a restaurant chain’s menu and engineered it to increase their profitability by 18%. I’d say, that’s not too shabby … but now it’s your turn.