Your restaurant’s menu has the ability to make or break you.
Specials are so much more than a mere conversation piece for your servers. When done the right way, offering daily specials enables you to utilize seasonal ingredients, reduce food waste, and turn first-timers into repeat customers. It can be an incredible tool to increase profitability and overall customer satisfaction.
Here are our top 8 tips on how to create the perfect daily specials menu:
1. Use your environment to your advantage.
Capture the attention of your customers by utilizing local ingredients and crafting daily specials inspired by the local culture. If the region your business is located in is known for a particular type of cheese or fruit, incorporate it into your daily special and make it known that you’ve done so. Perhaps your town or country is famous for a particular dish; create your own twist on the classic and make it today’s special.
Customers love knowing that the food they are eating has been locally-sourced, so use local ingredients in your daily specials whenever possible and make sure to specify this in the description. You will be supporting other local businesses while supporting your own, so everybody wins.
2. Keep the pricing in line with the rest of your menu.
If you run a casual pizzeria with standard prices of $10-12 USD per dish, you shouldn’t be offering a $30 USD special. The pricing of your daily specials shouldn’t come as a shock to your customers. If the price of the special is too far from what they expected to spend, they won’t bother with it.
While it’s not uncommon for daily specials to cost slightly more than the regular menu items, the pricing still needs to make sense. There’s nothing worse than getting excited about the awesome dish your server is describing, only to hear the price and realize you can’t afford it.
You can calculate your ideal restaurant menu prices by following these simple steps:
- Choose your preferred food cost percentage. On average, this is typically between 25 and 35 percent.
- Determine the raw food cost of the dish by adding up the cost of each ingredient.
- Calculate your menu price by dividing the raw food cost by your preferred food cost percentage.
3. Incorporate seasonal ingredients.
Not only is it a good idea to incorporate seasonal ingredients into your daily specials, but it’s often expected. Daily specials allow you the unique opportunity to utilize ingredients that are currently in season, unlike the permanent menu items that are made with the same ingredients year-round.
This could mean incorporating peaches into your specials in June or butternut squash into your specials in October. Many people enjoy eating dishes inspired by the time of year, so take advantage of seasonal produce when crafting your specials.
It’s also important to note that produce is better-tasting, more nutrient-rich and more affordable when it’s in-season.
4. Get your staff excited about the specials.
Whenever possible, allow your staff to try a bite of the special. Speaking from a customer’s viewpoint, you can almost always tell whether or not a server has actually tried the special by how they speak about it. If they tried today’s special and loved it, they would not hesitate to tell the customers how great it is.
Ideally, your staff should be as excited about the daily specials as you are. Try promoting a little friendly competition among your servers by offering a prize to the server who sells the most daily specials in a shift.
5. Promote your specials on social media.
Don’t underestimate the power of social media. In recent years, it has become more and more influential in the success of businesses everywhere. In the food and beverage industry, it can be challenging to come up with ideas for social media posts. Not only will your daily specials give you more to post about on Facebook and Instagram, but they can help to bring in customers who might not have come in otherwise.
You should consider posting about your daily specials on every social media platform your business uses to help attract customers and get your name out there. It’s hardly worth the effort of crafting daily specials if nobody knows about them!
On Menutech, you can share a single sharelink on your website which updates itself at your preferred time of the day. Brunch guests? Let your menu update itself at 7AM every morning on your website and social media channels. Aperitivo bar? Make it 5PM. Business lunch goers? Schedule the daily updates for 11AM. With the help of Menutech’s automated updating function, you will never have to re-upload a PDF or change a link ever again.
6. Use a menu template for your daily specials.
While you could leave it up to your servers to explain the daily specials to your customers, this allows for complications. The server could forget to tell their table about the specials, they could get the details wrong, or the customer could forget every word the moment your server walks away.
To avoid running into any of these issues, it’s best to print out a paper daily specials menu that you can give to the customers. At Menutech, we provide over 30 customizable menu styles to choose from. This makes it a lot easier for you to craft daily specials menus that are both consistent and stylish.
7. Consider using leftover ingredients in your specials.
This is a big one if you’re interested in cutting back on food waste. Many restaurants craft their specials based on ingredients they have a lot left of from the night before.
For example, if you baked fresh bread for last night’s dinner service and ended up with a ton leftover, you could consider making a homemade bread pudding as a dessert special for tonight’s dinner service.
Another great example is using leftover steak from the night before to make a steak sandwich special for lunch service. The options are endless, it just takes a little creativity!
8. Be transparent about the ingredients in your daily menu items.
It’s important to ensure that your daily specials follow the same health and safety guidelines as any of your mainstay menu items. The fact that they are only on the menu for a day has nothing to do with whether or not regulations are to be followed.
While you probably don’t need to list out each individual spice used to coat your blackened salmon, it is important to include all of the key ingredients in your dishes on the menu. This is especially important when it comes to allergens, as you never know who may have an allergy to gluten, dairy, or nuts.
Being too vague with your menu descriptions will likely result in the following:
- Food waste
- Loss of profits
- Negative customer experience.
To avoid any of these unpleasant situations, be descriptive and transparent with each of the items on your menu. It will make things run more smoothly both on the customer’s end and on yours.
By following these helpful tips, you can use a daily specials menu to catapult your business to levels of success you’ve yet to see. When done right, it can be just what you need to satisfy your customers, cut back on food waste, and increase profitability.
- “Ways to Make Daily Specials Work for Your Restaurant” by Decision Logic
- “5 Tips for Creating Restaurant Specials” by Matt Niehaus
- “7 Tips for Keeping Your Specials ‘Special’” by Angela Burke
- “How restaurants can get better returns on their daily specials” by Atumio
- “Restaurants in Europe Now Legally Required to List Potential Allergens” by Erin DeJesus
- “Food safety in the EU” by Europa
- “Restaurant Menu Pricing” by Webstaurant Store