Group set menus: Why you should offer them
Group menus can become an important source of income for any restaurant. In this post we offer a few tips to help you plan them, increase your revenues and build customer loyalty.
The best time to offer group menus
Company dinners, friends’ gatherings, family meals… In the following dates, restaurants tend to have a larger number of customers. But set menus are not only for Christmas, there are different times throughout the year when you can offer them:
- Christmas (December – early January). The weeks before the Christmas season are the perfect time to offer group menus. New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and even the first few days of January can also be busy days.
- Easter (April/May). A lot of people take advantage of the holidays to meet up with friends and family and celebrate together.
- Pre-summer dinners (June/July). Before the summer holidays, many organise a good-bye meal.
- Back from holidays (September). Many go back to their routines with a gathering to catch up.
If you are thinking of offering set group menus more often, bear in mind that these gatherings tend to happen at the end of the week, specially from Thursday to Sunday.
How to choose the best group menus?
A set menu can be the best advert for your restaurant, so take into account what your business is like and what experience your customers might be looking for. Avoid endless lists of dishes and instead offer several alternatives that can meet the needs of the different customers you want to attract.
When choosing the menus you are going to offer, don’t forget the following:
- Think about allergens.Always offer alternatives for people with allergies or food intolerances. At Quescrem we have a full range of lactose-free products. In addition, all our products are gluten-free, making it easier to adapt all kinds of recipes.
- Differentiate yourself by specialising. Group menus should reflect your à la carte menu. Adapt your normal menu and select seasonal ingredients: they will add a special touch to your dishes and help you cut costs.
- Add kid-friendly options.Think about easy and varied options that will appeal the youngest members of the party, without compromising on nutritional and high-quality ingredients. Have a look at our kid-friendly range and unleash your creativity!
- Design interesting menus. The list of dishes included in each menu must be appealing. Describe each dish very clearly and in detail, but try to make the descriptions evocative to make them more appealing.
- Offer different price options. Include menus with a varied price range to attract different customer profiles.
- A matter of cost. Choose solutions, formats and ingredients for shorter preparation times and with the best cost savings.
A good planning and delivery of set menus will be key to achieve efficient and profitable results. Take note!
As soon as you have chosen the group menus you will be offering, it is time to see what ingredients you need. Bear in mind that the more ingredients or prep work the recipes have in common, the easier and more efficient it will be to organise the kitchen, work out what needs to be prepared in advance and have them ready for service. Control portions and ingredients with the help of a cost breakdown analysis and efficient technical data sheets to avoid improvisation and any possible loss on costs, presentation and flavour.
By analysing the cost of the ingredients to be used in the recipes we can work out the true cost of each dish (per person). This will help you work out the selling price of each dish to make it cost efficient, in addition to helping you control and optimise the cost on ingredients. To adjust the quantities you will have to take into account how many customers or reservations have been made, but purchasing and menu planning are key in this sense.
Remember that it is recommended that the cost of the menu ingredients should be less than 30% of the total price. Some dishes will always have a higher cost than others, which is why it is so important to find a balance of costs. A possibility is to include an attractive dish that goes over the 30% cost limit but grabs the attention of the client and then balance the menu with dishes that have a lower cost.
Plan your purchases
A good cost breakdown is at the core of your purchases. It is an essential step in order to organise your ingredients efficiently and make the highest profitability from each menu. Look for suppliers that offer specific solutions for restaurants, such as Quescrem’s professional range.
Mise en place
Following the previous steps will help with the mise en place. When offering group set menus it is important to prepare in advance as much as you can for a more efficient final preparation of the dishes. That is why it is important to choose dishes that can withstand preservation in refrigerator, freezer or even heated.
Organising ingredients and the dish preparation order for each menu must be efficient to make sure everything runs smoothly. Prepare the ingredients according to the quantity and format needed, in addition to the utensils to be used for each dish, to make sure the whole team can assemble the dishes with ease, saving time and offering a better service to the customers.
Steps that will set you apart
Organizing every detail of a set menu is key to get the best results, but there are other aspects that can help you offer a more complete dining experience.
Having a social media strategy is vital to promote the restaurant, attract new customers and build customer loyalty. In addition to a profile on Facebook or Instagram, all restaurants should be on specialised hospitality sites, such as Tripadvisor or OpenTable.
To offer your customers a unique experience you will need to be creative. In addition to the menu, you can create an unforgettable experience with the decoration, table setting, dish presentation or background music. Everything counts when offering an unforgettable experience. You also must remember that group menus offer a great opportunity to attract new clients, which is why it is so important that you offer an outstanding service. The products you offer, but also your floor staff, will set you apart.