Hack the Menu

Developing the perfect menu is both an art and a science. It’s not enough to give a pastry a cute name or jot offerings on a chalkboard. You have to know the value of your products, price them accordingly and then tackle marketing, so you can avoid leaving money on the table. Check out these five menu hacks to boost the perceived value of your baked goods.

Include Prep Methods in Descriptions

On average, describing a dish with terms like “house-made,” “in-house” and “artisanal” correlates to a 35 cent spike in an item’s price, according to foodservice data provider Food Genius. In addition, customers are willing to pay more for goods with descriptions that imply freshness. If you make anything in-house, flaunt it. From bread that’s baked fresh daily to cake made from scratch, it pays to communicate all of the effort that goes into your goods.  

Showcase Ingredient Origins

It’s no secret customers care about where their food comes from. Fast-casual concepts like Sweetgreen have adapted their menusto address this growing consumer trend, and so can bakeries. Mentioning the companies, farms and mills that provide your bakery with its essential ingredients not only increases transparency and helps establish trust with customers, but it can also raise the dollar amount they’re willing to pay for your goods.

List Potential Allergens and Ingredients Associated with Dietary Restrictions

Research firm NPD reports 30 percent of Americans are interested in avoiding gluten, and according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 65 percent of the global population has trouble digesting lactose. Addressing dietary restrictions up front can help you gain loyal repeat customers. Highlight foods commonly avoided for medical, nutritional or other reasons. Doing so helps ensure customers have a safe and enjoyable experience at your bakery—likely earning you brownie points for transparency.

Create and Explain Signature Items

If the cronut craze has taught us anything, it’s that a good signature pastry with a powerful backstory can transform any bakery into a must-try destination. The charm of Dominque Ansel’s quest to conquer the ultimate American pastry, the donut, only to end up with a hybrid item that also paid homage to his Parisian roots was too much for customers to resist. Take a page out of Ansel’s book, and don’t be afraid to whip up something whimsical and personal. The more well told the story, the better you’ll showcase creativity to customers and make your business stand out from competitors. 

Call Out Seasonal Items

Using seasonal flavors shows a dedication to the craft and an appreciation for the finest ingredients. While most bakeries use seasonal ingredients to varying degrees, few advertise it. Ice cream sandwich pioneer Coolhaus, which has operations in New York City, Dallas and the Los Angeles area, calls special attention to its seasonal items by including an asterisk next to their menu listings. This strategy has been a boon for business, according to Natasha Case, Coolhaus’ CEO. “[Seasonal ingredients] are hugely important as far as the message they communicate about our brand … and the consequent buzz they generate,” she says.  

As any bakery owner knows, making a menu item is half the battle. Selling it is the other half. Using the hacks outlined above will ensure that none of the precious energy it takes to craft a perfect pastry goes to waste.