What you call something on your menu can make or break its sales
It is impossible to sell dessert. It will be the most fruitless effort you ever attempt.
There is no call to action, no pull, nothing for the mind to grab onto. On the contrary, it’s very possible to sell a pistachio gelato or an Oreo Cheesecake brownie topped with house-made whipped cream and strawberries. Creating visual appeal in text form or from the verbal scripting your staff says at the table will determine your sales. It is a very fundamental upselling technique to use imagery to sell.
That alone is a solid tip to talk to your staff about. I suggest talking in an open roundtable group and role-playing scenarios to form a solid foundation for upselling.
So if all “desserts” are perceived as the same until there is more description and detail to make them unique and special, wouldn’t all menu items benefit from verbal imagery as well? If you simply sell a Supreme pizza or a Meat Lover’s you are and will be judged against all other pizzas with the same name and style.
Making unique names and spins on items not only sets you apart, it also doesn’t give the competition the benefit of being compared to you.
Forget pizza for a minute. So that you can look at it objectively, let’s talk tacos. Who has the best taco in your town? You most likely have the exact place picked out, but you also have three fallbacks (others who also make a solid taco), am I right? However, look at Taco Bell. They have tacos, sure, but they have gone well beyond that in the last 10 years so they aren’t judged on tacos alone. That’s because being compared to every other taco is a fight they simply can’t win. So they have new items to which they’ve given catchy names. I’m not suggesting mimicking the food quality of Taco Bell or comparing the chain to the best taco you’ve ever had. What I am saying is they have NO COMPETITION for who makes the better version of those items, because they have branded them so uniquely that if a “Crunchwrap” is what you want, then you only have ONE OPTION on where to go.
So when it comes to creating a menu, here are some suggestions:
• Creative Naming –– Have a plan or theme that you hold to (names of New York streets, for example), but make sure your menu is not populated with generic sounding items. Even when doing a simple Caprese Antipasto, it should have a unique adjective name in front of it so it’s not just the same Caprese we’ve all had 1,000 times before. Name it the Calabrese Caprese or something you have a relation to.
• Unique Creations –– Do what has not been done. Don’t write the same song; if nothing else, change the lyrics. A random unique item I see at pizzerias are Pepperolli’s. They’re fun and simple. If you sell them as PepperiniRinis, or whatever name you want to dream up, then they won’t be immediately connected to all other pepperollis that person might have ever had.
It all boils down to loyalty and repeat visits. Only when it’s uniquely named and uniquely created can you build the loyalty all restaurants need to not only survive, but also thrive.
Mike Bausch is the owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is a frequent speaker at the International Pizza Expo family of tradeshows.