So, you or your team has identified a new product that might be a good fit on your food truck menu. Now you need to determine what are the best practices to successfully introduce new items to your menu. The key to a great new introduction is to package what your customers already love into a new form. In today’s article we’ll walk you through these rules and provide you with a simple checklist to make sure it has a profitable launch.
Follow These Rules To Introduce New Items To Your Menu
- Protect your existing menu. If you’re already operating a successful food truck, you will have certain menu items that make up the bulk of your sales. This can sometimes be spread out among a number of items or concentrated on just a few. You need to find your profit makers and protect them. These menu items are essential to your food truck’s brand. If you screw that up, you may bring harm to your entire mobile food business.
- You don’t have a crystal ball. Even the most successful chefs or business owners can’t see the future. If you are introducing a new menu item because your truck hasn’t performed the way you thought it would, don’t put all of your hopes into a new menu item to turn your fortune around. All you can do is anticipate what you want to have happen with any new menu items.
- Don’t let a failure stop you from trying again. Not every new menu item will be a success. To be honest, most of the new dishes you launch will have limited success. Don’t let this get you discouraged, as many of these items will help you sell more of your main menu.
- Properly name your new menu items. What you name your menu item really does matter. Consumers don’t like to look stupid. In my years covering the food truck industry, one common theme I’ve noticed; many people won’t buy what they can’t pronounce. Keep this in mind when you start deciding what to name your new menu items.
Cost Out Your New Menu Item
When you are introducing a new item, they should always be costed out before it added to your menu. You can use simple math to determine how much a dish costs by adding up the prices of every ingredient that goes into the dish. Now multiply the cost by 25-30 percent of food cost to get a general understanding how much you can charge your customers.
RELATED: Food Truck Menu Pricing Methods
If most of the items on your food truck menu are within $6 to $8, it may be a waste of time if a new item that has exotic ingredients yields a nice profit at a menu price of $15, if price sensitivity prevents customers from buying it.
Please Note: When costing out new menu items, be careful to calculate on the entire cost of the item. This should include any extra expense for food waste that might be involved in its preparation.
Checklist For A New Menu Item Launch
Introducing the dish slowly
- Make the menu item with several variations.
- Develop a small focus group of your top customers.
- Make it a menu special that requires customer feedback as part of a deal.
Adding the new menu
- Make cooks aware in advance and get them comfortable in its preparation.
- Have service window staff taste new item in pre-shift meeting.
Evaluating the new menu item
- Use your ticketing or POS systems to track the sales of the item.
- Monitor customer feedback and make adjustments as needed.
The Bottom Line
There are some simple rules to introduce new items to your food truck menu. Follow them, and you will avoid many of the common mistakes made by other food truck owners. Make sure you don’t skip testing when you introduce new items to your menu. It can be as easy as walking outside your truck with your new creations and offering free samples to people to get their initial reaction.