Planning a food court means you must have a delicious menu as this is your only communication tool with your guests to lure them to come back. The ‘menu’ introduces to your guests the best you have to offer, the best display of the eatery as well as it also strengthens your brand concept which includes your personality. In order to get all of this in one package diligently, there needs to be a particular kitchen design that could help facilitate the easy functioning of the food court.
Practically, your customer would look at the menu for a calculated time of 109 seconds according to data, and within this time your food court menu has to impress the customer and help him decide what to order. The little menu book has to be unassumingly simple with not much scope of errors that may quite usually be ignored by restaurateurs, which ultimately impacts on the overall profit.
Let us now list out a few common mistakes that need to be avoided when you plan a food court.
These mistakes when avoided would definitely lead to a profitable business that would want guests to walk in without much thought as well as refer your food court to other friends and family.
# Categorize your menu — The foods that you display on the menu card need to be categorized well enough to get a clear picture. In this sense, the right kind of food needs to be in the right group of food types. The menu also has to follow the order of service for example- Appetizers, Soups, Burgers, Pizzas, Desserts are to be going into the corresponding groups. The main course meals have to obviously be listed after appetizers and soups, vegetarian dishes and non-vegetarian dishes need to be on different pages of the menu.
# Limit Your Items — Keeping a limited number of items on your menu might definitely help guests get to order at a faster rate than when you have a long detailed menu. Although this method might have some compromises being done on sales. A comprehensive menu has its pros and cons. As mentioned earlier, long menus take up a long time to decide resulting in fewer customers, as the time taken at each table is much longer. Another disadvantage of a long menu is that your guests could be confused to arrive at their order.
# Concentrate on Food Specialities — A comprehensive menu which includes specialities and unique foods which can be dealt with very well by your chef will definitely fetch new and repeated customers.
# Refer menu performance reports — Always refer to menu performance reports to analyze which of your items on the menu are really creating profitability in the food court. Avoid those that are doing badly. Removing such items would also help in reducing wastage thus saving on operational costs for producing them. This includes proper feedback forms from customers to be analyzed seriously.
# Avoid retaining the same menu — Food courts that have at least one special item on a seasonal basis do well in sales as this helps your customers hooked. Never opt for changes in the menu card regularly as using expensive paper and printing could cut your profit line.
# Give attention to detail — Since a part of the capital investment goes into designing the menu, avoid a clumsy graphic designer as aesthetics need to be maintained. Clear and readable fonts, color, size, choice of background, no typos, spell checks to be done thoroughly.
# Avoid incorrect pricing — Having a high selling price for a particular dish/dishes is to be avoided because it is a food court, because customers prefer certain cuisines in certain locations, therefore match your prices with prevailing price point on that particular menu item.
# Do not opt for upselling opportunities — Allow guests to add on extra servings of cheese, mushrooms, olives to their dishes by specifying them on the menu card. Well, a combo meal can always be upsold by add-ons such as a beverage or dessert which customers may not decide to order just from the menu. Combining combo meals with some popular items with good profit rate would be a good sales idea.
# Avoid clumsy utilization of space — Having too many items on the menu could be a disaster therefore use the space judiciously so you have a golden triangle for a high priced special menu at the top or bottom highlighted well enough so as to not be missed by the customer.
# Not using customer psychology — Not attempting to use customer psychology could be disastrous for food court planning. Avoid using beautiful pictures for all or most items on your menu. Instead use excellent pictures to depict best selling menus which are expensive too. These are likely to be ordered more often than the ones without pictures.
# Online menu not available — Today searching on the net has become so common that an online menu would help people to check and decide a food court based on its listed menu online. Therefore create a website for your food court with the menu so that you can collaborate with delivery apps such as Zomato, FoodPanda for online reservations for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and the like. However remember that your online menu should also be mobile-friendly. Keep it short and crisp instead of having a PDF.
# Lack of Menu Descriptions — Make sure to give a brief description of the dish, spicy, hot cold, vegetarian or included with nuts, specially the ingredients that might cause an allergy must be mentioned.
If you have planned to open a food court, make sure you have a formal draft which includes a business plan step by step, pitch in banks, investors as well as potential employees. A business well planned will definitely grow faster. Some general mistakes that are made by food court owners are – minimal effort on business plan, research competition, put together a realistic sales forecast for your food court plan, have a striking logo, location map, photos of your concept design. Devote a section to competitive analysis to prove what makes your food court special. Such a business plan for your food court will be a great way to make the vision clear and define the path to success. Make sure to have enough industry experience, enough operating capital, good choice of location, proper menu planning and pricing, learn to adapt and be trendy, consistency in quality of food and service.