How Menu Design Impacts Different Customers

Before we talk about expanding your menu, without expanding your inventory, let’s first talk about how wide your menu is currently. Do you have too many items on your menu? Did you know that reducing your menu size can increase your profits? That’s because a smaller menu simplifies your operation, reduces your bookkeeping, and even makes it easier to train new employees. It can also result in faster prep times and fewer mistakes. Not to mention less inventory to manage.

On the other hand, research suggests customers tend to prefer a variety of options over menu simplicity. Forbes magazine reports interesting statistics, including that 30% of coffee-café brand customers say they would prefer to have more menu options.

The dilemma is that a cluttered, over-expansive menu is difficult for customers to navigate, while a significant sub-set of customers desire variety and choice in their café experience.

One critical solution is to distinguish between your inventory, and your menu. By streamlining your inventory, you can still create a wide variety of novel flavored drinks for customers who like variety, while avoiding clutter behind the counter.

Which takes us to the next question: how do I expand my menu while reducing my inventory?

The answer: Get creative!

Creatively Expanding Your Drink Menu With a Streamlined Inventory

Did you know that a 10 digit password could have 10,000,000,000 possible combinations? Just 10 numbers! So, apply that to your menu: with only a few syrups, you can make thousands of different drinks.

Of course, you won’t want to offer thousands of drinks at one given time, but applying this principle will let you offer unique flavored drinks without stocking up on extra inventory you can’t use.

For instance, you let’s try using espresso, Sattwa Chai, and two syrups from our inventory to create some combinations. We’ll use the following, along with milk:

  1. Ahroma Café Espresso Italiano Coffee (can be served as a single shot, or as an Americano)
  2. Sattwa Chai (can be served as a chai latte with milk)
  3. Cinnamon Italian Syrup (such as Torani, Monin, or DaVinci)
  4. Cookie Butter Italian Syrup

In addition to serving black coffee or Sattwa Chai on their own, hot or cold, we can create the following combinations:

  1. Cinnamon Chai Tea – chai with cinnamon syrup
  2. Sugar Cookie Chai Tea – chai with cookie butter syrup
  3. Snicker Strudel Chai Tea – chai with cinnamon and cookie butter syrups
  4. Snicker Strudel Latte – espresso latte with cinnamon and cookie butter syrups
  5. Cinnamon Bun Latte – espresso latte with cinnamon syrup
  6. Sugar Cookie Latte – espresso latte with cookie butter syrup
  7. Dirty Chai – A shot of espresso with chai
  8. Cookies n’ Milk Dirty Chai Latte – Combine cookie butter syrup with a dirty chai
  9. Cinnamon Dirty Chai Latte – Combine cinnamon syrup with a dirty chai
  10. Snicker Strudel Dirty Chai Latte – Combine cookie butter and cinnamon syrup with a dirty chai

If you have customers who are parents of children, or are seeking a non-caffeinated option, consider using flavors to create caffeine-free novelty milk drinks. For example: Hot Double Cookies And Milk – steamed milk with cinnamon and cookie syrup, served with a snickerdoodle cookie.

With only four ingredients and milk, you can rotate out a variety of special drinks which appeal to customers seeking variety.

If you add a single sauce (chocolate, caramel, or white chocolate) you can triple the number of possible drinks to add to your your menu. Choose a memorable, appetizing name, and a signature drink is born! So, make a list of your top-moving flavors and start creating!

Streamlining Your Menu To Avoid Clutter

Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to expand your menu without expanding your inventory, keep in mind that reducing your menu options still has value. It increases the efficiency of your baristas, and it reduces ordering time for customers, because fewer choices means a faster decision. And shorter lines.

Most people really don’t want to stand gazing at your menu, trying to decide what to get. The simpler your menu, the easier it is to order. And your final reward is simpler bookkeeping that allows you to track what is really working. Your inventory will be rotating well, to keep things fresh, and your cash flow will improve.

By treating experimental drinks as a rotating limited time special, you can appeal to the variety-centric customer without cluttering your menu for regular customers seeking a traditional espresso. Based on feedback from your customers, you can always graduate popular drink combinations to the permanent menu later.

Applying the 80/20 Rule To Maximize Your Menu

Do you remember the 80/20 rule? Sometimes called “The Praeto Principle,” the basic idea is that about 80% of outcomes result from 20% of all causes. Investopedia recognizes the importance of this principle in both economics and business.

Essentially, you should focus your efforts on what produces the most profits and the best outcomes for your business. Are chocolate-flavored drinks outselling other flavored drinks? Emphasize mocha espresso and chocolate frappe on your menu. Are your customers specialty coffee purists? Emphasize traditional roasts, while using a small section of your menu to test out a new novelty drinks.

Keep it simple and just use your creativity to rearrange what you already have, only adding something when the season dictates.