Running a Restaurant: Validating Your Menu

So you’ve spent all this money to buy a restaurant, hire a staff, and create the concept. You plan an open date, you make a big deal about it, the place is packed. And then…the shame: the menu sucks! How could this happen? There was so much planning, so much meticulous planning. In order to avoid such a fate, it’s important to validate your menu before you take it to the streets. The last thing you want to do is open up and find out that all of your hard work was for nothing. So here are some quick ways to validate your menu:

-Do online concept testing: you can find services that will look over pictures and descriptions of your menu items and offer feedback on how well they think they will do. You can type in that phrase “online concept testing” into an internet search engine and find plenty of places that will do this for you.

-Do in-restaurant intercepts (interviews): many restaurants do what are called “soft opens” where they open for some to get a feel for the market before doing a grand opening. When you do this, interview the customers who come in and get their perspective on the meals. You can hire a firm to do this or do it yourself.

-Hold focus groups: this method is one of the most accurate ways of getting information on your menu, but it’s also one of the most expensive ways. Focus groups are simple: people who come out, try the food, and offer first hand feedback. Major restaurant chains across the country don’t make a move until they’ve done the work with a focus group. The thing is it can be very expensive.

No matter what you do, it’s extremely important to your business that you find out if your menu will sell before you go live. The last thing you want to do is see everything you’ve worked so hard for go downhill.

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