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How To Increase Sales With a Better Designed Bar Menu

Your beverage menu can be one of the best sales tools you have. But to really maximize revenue with your menu you need to understand how to use your menu to sell drinks.

Let's face it; a boring drink menu that is very basic in description and design will not help you increase beverage sales.

However, by placing your menu appropriately and featuring your menu items in the right spaces, you can influence your customers to buy more of what you want them to buy. You're advertising what you offer and prodding your customers towards high profit margin menu items.

With your menu you can showcase how your bar is different (and better!) than the competition. You can also brand your bar with specialty items that customers can't get anywhere else.

To get your beverage menu to start generating sales, there are a few things that you need to do. Menus need to be current, descriptive, engaging, easily accessible, and they need to have strategic placement of high profit items. All of these things together will help you maximize revenue with your menu.

Where Customers Look

You want to put your high profit menu items in the best possible space on your menu. The best menu real estate is the middle upper half of the menu - this is where customers look first when viewing a menu.

The second most viewed area of a menu is in the upper right portion of the menu, followed by the upper left, lower left and lastly the lower right. Arrange your menu items to take advantage of this and place high profit items in the middle upper area of the menu and the upper right part of the menu.

If you want to draw special attention to a group of items, you can also place a box around them to make that area of the menu stand out. Using different fonts and colors also draws attention.

How to Describe Menu Items

If you only provide the name of a drink and the price on your menu, you are not promoting sales with your menu. You should think of the item descriptions on your menu as little commercials where you can educate the customer and showcase the benefits of each item listed.

For example, House Special Margarita doesn't sound nearly as good as House Special Margarita: A smooth and refreshing mix of Patron Silver Tequila, Cointreau Liqueur and fresh lime, Served on the rocks with coarse sea salt. The first description just tells us the name of the drink and the price, while the second description really sells the drink and generates interest.

No matter what kind of drink, whether it is beer or a specialty cocktail, the description for the drink should be entertaining and informative. Describe what is in the drink (making special mention of any premium liquors), how it is prepared and what it tastes like. You can also add other information like where the liquor, wine or beer is made and any interesting drink facts or history.

Where You Can Place Menus

You want to make your beverage menus as visible as possible for your customers. If customers can't see your menus, you can't sell with them. Making menus accessible means not only putting them on tables but also in various places around your bar.

One way to make your menu visible is to write your specials on chalkboards or dry erase boards featured prominently at the entrance to your bar, above the bar, behind the bar or anywhere else you have a blank wall. When using a specials board lead with your high profit items, many customers won't read through all of the specials.

You can also use table tents in different places along the bar to feature specialty drinks or your beer and wine list. Often your liquor distributors will provide plastic table tent holders free of charge.

Your beverage napkins are another place where you can put your menu. Have paper napkins printed with your drink menu or a short list of items. Customers will see the menus as soon as a napkin is placed in front of them and they can read over the menu later.

When to Make Changes

While you always want to keep the signature and best-selling items on your menu, making periodic changes to your beverage menu keeps it fresh. Adding new menu items (like a list of cocktails made with organic juices and spirits) will help your bar stay current with beverage trends.

It's also a good idea to change your menu on a seasonal basis to sell different items. Frozen drinks and fruit based cocktails will sell better in the spring and summer while hot drinks and richer flavors like spice and chocolate sell better in the fall and winter.

How to Introduce New Items

When you want to add a new item to your menu, it's best to do it gradually. Try out the new item as a drink special or happy hour offering to see if there's a positive customer response. New menu items can be introduced with promotions - like a new Mango Margarita at your Monday Margarita Madness promotion - as another way to test their popularity.

You can also offer new drinks in smaller sizes as samples to your regular customers. Have your bartenders ask customers how they like the new item and listen to their feedback.

There's more to your menu than just letting the customer know what they can order. Your beverage menu can be a powerful sales tool. Make the changes you need and start influencing your customers' beverage purchases to maximize revenue.

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