Géraldine Malet

Géraldine puts her passion for the web, marketing and communication, writing and storytelling at the service of companies and entrepreneurs.

Today I will discuss the 3Cs theory which I have devised based on my experience as both a restaurant consultant and a training instructor, whether for face-to-face or online sessions. In all these areas, I have observed the same mistakes, the same doubts and the same difficulties. Thanks to the following straightforward explanations, you will never have any difficulty in creating or updating your menu.

As shown in the image, the 3Cs form an inseparable whole. If ever they are separated, the end result will be lacking in identity, segmentation and emotion.

Now let’s see what lies behind each “C”. Concept, Customers, Change.

The 3 key ingredients for a successful restaurant menu.

C for Concept

The first major mistake I have noticed on many menus is a complete lack of identity, character and definition.

If I were to ask you what you remember most clearly about your friends from primary or secondary school, you will no doubt recall who was the funniest, the most hard-working, or the one you liked the most, but what happened to all the others who have seemingly slipped your mind? Did you ever stop to wonder why they might have slipped you mind? It’s because they went by unnoticed in your eyes. They were, quite literally, faces in the crowd. On the other hand, you can no doubt clearly remember the ones who stood out from the rest. Well, it’s exactly the same thing with your restaurant.

  • How do you think your customers remember you and how do you want them to remember you?
  • What makes you special, different, original?

Menus that offer anything and everything for all and everyone are POINTLESS. They fail to draw attention and thus serve no purpose! To stand out, you have to offer a few little “extras”. One of the keys to a successful, memorable menu lies in how it specializes in a specific area, whether for a given type of dish or a certain type of presentation or service.

Before sitting down to create your menu, the first thing to define is the concept. In other words, how you want people to remember you, and why they will want to come back. You must think about what sets you apart from your competitors. Be careful not to bewilder your customers; you must offer them a choice of dishes and set menus that is harmonious, logical and understandable.

C for Customers

The concept that we set out to create must be inspired by our customers, not by the individual tastes of the restaurant owner, or those of his or her children, brother-in-law, niece or neighbour. You may wonder, why I am telling you this? Quite simply because in a lots of restaurants in which I have worked, I have noticed that their menus are like jigsaws: each piece corresponds to the preferences of an acquaintance, a particular dish eaten at a marriage, a starter discovered while on vacation, an aunt’s favourite dessert, etc. The end result is a menu that has no consistency; one that never gives the impression that the customer has been placed at the centre of the underlying thought process.

To understand our customers, we must first put ourselves in their shoes, try to experience the same feelings, and think and dream as they do. This means asking yourself the following questions:

  • What type of customers would I like to have in my restaurant?
  • What type of customers would I like to attract to my restaurant every day?
  • Which age bracket would I like to appeal to?
  • What kind of origins would I like to appeal to?
  • What professions would I like to appeal to?
  • What kind of leisure activities would my ideal customers have?
  • What kind of problems might they have?

To create a menu with products inspired by your customers, try drawing up a list like the one below:

  • My ideal customers are aged between 25 and 40.
  • They go out twice a month with their friends.
  • Their financial resources for eating out are limited.
  • They are looking for variety in the dishes.
  • After dinner, they will continue their night out in the neighbourhood.
  • and so on.

As soon as you have found 10 characteristics (the minimum, sufficient number to get started), ask yourself “what can I do for them?” If you put yourself in their shoes, you will better understand their desires and their needs. Only then will you be able to define a clear concept that meets these needs via your menu!

C for Change

How dull life would be without emotions. How would we carry on if nothing ever changed? Our lives change, just like  our motivations. If we are looking for — and need — emotions in our daily lives, then why not offer our customers something new?

You must change your menu from time to time for a number of obvious reasons:

  • By changing the menu with each new season, you make the most of seasonal products at lower prices.
  • If your offer new dishes, the customer will always have a reason for coming back.
  • If you modify the menu or include a few chef’s suggestions, customers will always have something new to try when they come back.
  • By renewing your cuisine, you can tell the customer a new story, whether it be on the menu, on your website, on the social networks, or face to face.

If you take a close look at the leading restaurant chains, you will notice that they constantly renew their menus and offer different dishes with each new season. You must become aware of the fact that your menu allows you to continually delight your customers. If we foster love and friendship via surprises and great times, why not do the same thing with our customers?

As can be seen, this theory is nothing more than common sense! It does not involve any applied science and does not require any investment in order to be deployed. It simply boils down to wanting to improve things and always putting the customer first.

Note: we must offer customers what they want to buy, not what we want to sell.

Remember that the 3Cs form a whole: if you forget one C, your menu will immediately lose a little of its soul…

Feel free to send us an example of your menu to share your best practices, advice and tips for making this tool an excellent means of communication.