Doing menu management right with off-prem

By : Rohan Rodney

August 20, 2019 08:00 AM

How do your off-premise menus stack up?


With off-premise ordering continuing to drive same-store sales growth, it’s no wonder that restaurateurs are trying to adjust their operations to better engage with digital consumers. Whether dine-in, takeout or delivery, customers expect consistency in quality and service. Unfortunately, a great meal on-premise doesn’t always translate to delivery that arrives 30 minutes after being prepared. 


That’s why forward-thinking restaurateurs are now experimenting with off-premise menus. It’s one element they can adjust to maintain superior brand experiences across channels and run their enterprise efficiently and profitably.


As the workflows for production become wider and more complex, we’ve got some tips you can use to set up your menus for success.


  • Automate kitchen production changes for different delivery channels: Menus are complicated enough with the countless combinations of ingredients that must be managed every day. Off-premise adds another layer of complexity since certain recipes have to be prepared differently than for dine-in – for example, some restaurants add corn starch to fried items to help them stay crispy in transit versus using just flour. Even if the recipe doesn’t differ, your kitchen production staff might need to package sauces or other components separately when preparing items for off-premise. Automating these adjustments makes it easy for your employees to offer the quality that customers expect in-store.
  • Drive same-store sales – profitably: Another component of agile, flexible menu management is being able to curate menus for different channels based on their profitability. While you may include loss-leader items proven to drive higher sales with dine-in traffic, they shouldn’t necessarily be available for delivery or take-out. You may also find you need to limit the variety of choices available on an off-premise menu to ensure those channels are contributing to – not detracting from – your bottom line.
  • Create opportunities for off-premise upsells: According to QSR Magazine, one-third of off-premise restaurant customers don’t buy drinks with their order—these are millions of missed opportunities every day to make an easy upsell. And this is just one example of how consumers behave differently in-store versus off-premise. (Mostly because customers have separate goals for dine-in visits, where they might be focused on the experience, and off-premise, where they’re looking for speed and convenience.) But you can take advantage of off-premise ordering by taking the guesswork out of upsells. Bundling delivery-only or take-out combinations that include beverages and side dishes are a great way to use your off-premise menus. Or you can use strategically placed photos and signage of value deals or related add-ons to make it easier for customers to buy more.
  • But don’t forget in-store: Remember you can use your off-premise channels to boost your dine-in business. If your delivery menus are limited to items that travel well, you can still attract customers and nurture an ongoing relationship with them by advertising your more extensive menu for dine-in customers. Consider promoting in-store offers, rewards and unique, limited-time or seasonal items through your off-premise menus to encourage customers to come back.


Managing just one delivery menu at a single location can be hard enough. And with new menu introductions, holidays and seasonality – on top of the explosion in delivery marketplaces – it can quickly become overwhelming. The good news is you don’t have to go it alone.


NCR’s digital-first ordering solutions are running in more than 33,000 locations today, and over 75,000 restaurants worldwide run their restaurants using NCR Aloha. Part of our comprehensive offering includes intelligent menu configuration tools that makes it easy to edit, update and manage and publish menus across digital touchpoints.


For help optimizing menu management strategies for your operation, feel free to reach out to our team -- send us a message.  

Rohan Rodney

Rohan Rodney is a Product Marketing Manager for NCR Hospitality. In this role, he communicates the vision and value of NCR's portfolio in meeting the market needs of the restaurant industry.