Steven Brown: Is your menu making you as much money as it could?

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu January 27, 2018 05:43 Updated

Food and beverage consultant Steven Brown has visited several golf clubs in the last year and found a number of areas in their menus that could be improved – and he lists them here

I‘m sad to report that most of the golf club menus that I review on my consultancy visits are badly designed, poorly laid out and do little or nothing to promote profitable sales.

Are you a victim of the menu mess or have you engineered your way to success?

Over 80 per cent of all diners are ready to be convinced about what to select from the menu, and menu engineering can help to steer them into making the right choice for them – and you!

Menu engineering is defined as ‘the process of identifying your most profitable products and then influencing the customer to buy them’.

How does this work? Engineering your menu is made up of a carefully crafted approach to the subject and consists of four steps:

Step one: The psychology of the sale

Step two: Cost controls

Step three: Marketing

Step four: Graphics

Let’s look briefly at each of these in turn.

The psychology of the sale

This involves identifying the ‘sweet spots’ on the menu and placing your post profitable products in them.

The ‘sweet spots’ are always the first product listed in each section (such as starters, mains and desserts) and the last spot. Typically, therefore, soup would always be the first product mentioned under the starters, being the most profitable. We do this as customers can be influenced in their purchasing decisions, by remembering the first thing they saw, and the last being the second most profitable product sold.

The second part of the psychology of the sale is to use a persuasive test.

Don’t simply advertise ‘soup’, say: “Why not try our rich, creamy, homemade soup filled with locally sourced vegetables, crispy croutons and with a crusty roll and butter.”

Now the trick is that you don’t use this method to describe every dish on the menu as it would end up longer then War and Peace – no, only the first and last in each section (or the most profitable).

Cost controls


No great revelation here other than you must make sure that you have total control over the cost of the wholesale product, labour, waste, accompaniments, utilities and all related items of expenditure to ensure that you achieve the gross and net profit levels you require.

Marketing the menu

Here are some key tips.

  • An A3 panel, double sided menu is the most effective menu style.
  • Have a ‘signature dish’ featured.
  • Use rich colours.
  • Educate staff on product knowledge.
  • Lay out menus in a logical, non-confusing sequence which are easy to follow.
  • Use photographs where possible as people eat with their eyes!
  • Make menus available on table and bar tops, noticeboards, the web site, newsletters, emails and all social media.


Simply highlight the more profitable dishes in either large type, italicised or even a different colour in an attempt to focus the potential purchaser’s eyes on what you want them to buy.

You can engineer your way to greater success in this subtle and non-intrusive way without any high pressure sales techniques from your staff. Try it – and if it doesn’t work I’ll eat my hat!

Steven can be contacted at:


Mobile: 07785 276320



Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu January 27, 2018 05:43 Updated
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