SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in Restaurant SmartBrief — tracks feedback from restaurant owners and managers about current trends and issues.
Last week’s poll question: How often do you revamp your menu?
- Seasonally — 61.9%
- Our menu remains standard but sometimes we’ll add specials or items for a limited time — 29.76%
- We never change our menu — 2.38%
- When we think customers are getting bored — 5.95%
If we’ve learned anything in the last year about menu trends, it’s that change can have a powerful influence for diners — and sales. Consider, for example, the McRib. For the first time, the McRib was offered across at locations across the nation at the same time. McDonald’s saw a surge in sales, and McRib lovers rejoiced. This specialty item had been beloved for years, but McDonald’s truly showed the power of a special when applied on a national level. McCafe beverages were another reason attributed to the company’s success in 2010. McDonald’s sought out a menu niche — coffee beverages — that it didn’t really have before but that Starbucks had clearly seen success with. The result? Stellar sales.
So rolling out beloved sandwiches nationwide and investing time, money and energy into an entirely new menu segment can work for the big guys. What about independents or smaller chains? Restaurant SmartBrief readers have the right idea with seasonal changes. Not only does changing things up seasonally keep the menu fresh — it also keeps the food fresh. By buying what’s in season, you up the flavor factor, keep costs low and surprise your guests every time a new ingredient comes into season.
How do you normally update your menu? Do you rotate your specials? Do you totally update your menu entrees? Let us know in the comments.
Image credit: DNY59, via iStockphoto