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What to Think about Before Changing Your Supermarket’s Menu

June 7, 2021
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There’s a wise saying that says, “When in doubt, choose change.” Change can be scary — and often, people try to avoid it at all costs. However, in the supermarket industry, there are plenty of areas where change is necessary to turn a profit. That’s especially true for deli, meal kits, and grab-n-go areas that are a draw for customers but also have higher waste capabilities. This post will walk through what to consider before taking the leap and changing your supermarket menu.

Profit and popularity
Maintaining good production records is important for gathering information on menu items that are hot sellers and those that you struggle to move out your doors. Changing up some aspect of your menu should happen every few months (just to keep things fresh and customers interested in what you’re offering). But it’s also vital in determining the items that work for the financials of your operation. Try looking back at your records and set up a spreadsheet that includes your costs and profit margins. This will allow you to quickly evaluate what is and isn’t working for your operation. Categorizing each menu item into the following categories can help with “at-a-glance” analysis:

Dog: low-profit margin and low popularity
Puzzle: high-profit margin and low popularity
Horse: low-profit margin and high popularity
Star: high-profit margin and high popularity

Weed them out
Of course, the goal is to have all “star” menu items; keep those where they’re at (or rotate them from time to time to keep your operation energized). Once you’ve nailed down each dish’s category, start by tossing the “dogs” to the wayside. Also, find innovative ways to decrease the cost of “horses.” Consider switching up an expensive ingredient or two for a comparable but lower-cost item (gouda cheese instead of gruyere or vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean). Try upping the marketing on menu items that fall into the “puzzle” category. Sometimes simply changing the dish’s name gives it a fresh spin and peaks customer interest. Rethinking the recipe is also an option. Stick with the lower-cost ingredients, but create a different dish that might be a better draw. There are also specials — sometimes people simply need to try a dish to find that they like it. Plus, who doesn’t like a deal?

Bigger isn’t better
When thinking about changing your deli or grab-n-go menus, think small. Smaller menus help decrease labor hours, limit waste and provide the ability for more flexible menu rotation. It also simplifies the ordering process and allows your operation to produce each dish with consistency and excellence. After categorizing your menu items and eliminating the dishes that fall into the dog category, you may find that your menu is simplified enough. If not, try pairing down the number of dishes by incorporating the profitable and more popular items in a seasonal rotation throughout the year.

What about equipment?
A menu concept can’t go very far if you don’t have the equipment to prepare, hold and display each desired dish. Start by assessing the equipment you currently have and get an understanding of its capacity for cooking. Do you have enough oven space for a baked chicken meal? What type of heating technology or cook time will it take to keep up with the demand (and maintain quality)? Do you have enough cold or hot holding cabinets for your grab-n-go menus? Menu flexibility is aided by the right equipment. Ventless units and countertop equipment with a smaller footprint are best. Their adaptability facilitates fluidity in your kitchen, so you can streamline cooking processes and workflows when menu items change.

Pivotal to success
Carefully considering the menu items served in your supermarket deli and grab-n-go is pivotal to a successful operation. Efficiency is also an ingredient for success that every operation can improve on. Interested in ways your supermarket restaurant can increase efficiency? Have a look at our post, Four Ways to Make Your Foodservice Operation More Efficient.

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