From the Archives: Master Menus for Multi-Unit Restaurant Companies

With most of the crew at the International Pizza Expo this week (visit SpeedLine at booth #421), we’re featuring this article on master menus from the archives.

Many chains use master corporate menus to control food cost and brand consistency. By standardizing menu offerings, recipes, and portions, restaurant chains protect their margins, deliver a consistent product across multiple locations. This  streamlines IT operations.

Tastes can vary from one area to another. The leek-and-potato pizza that’s a hit in Oakland may not go over so well in Dallas. With regional differences in prices, coupons, and tastes, how do you put the concept of a corporate menu into practice?

Master Menus

A POS system with chain-friendly menu management tools will allow you to define a master menu. You can also tailor it to each region as needed. Head office staff can create and maintain one or two menu files to use across the entire chain or a region. This keeps the core of the menu consistent. It also ensures that PLU’s used for online ordering always match those in the store menus.

Curtis Stalnaker, director of IT and training at Godfather’s Pizza, has managed as many as 48 corporate locations using a single SpeedLine master menu. “We rely heavily on our ability to manage multiple locations in a single menu file,” he says. “It contributes a lot to the efficiency of our IT processes.”

If you’re using SpeedLine POS, it’s easy to customize a single corporate menu to allow for different prices, coupons, and offerings at individual locations. Update: In SpeedLine 7.2 R400, the “Store Groups” feature was expanded to make it easy for virtually any element in the menu to be location-specific by simply selecting a check box. Adding new store groups was made much faster too.

Corporate Menus

Corporate menus are a powerful tool, and should be used with caution. Before distributing a menu across multiple locations, test it thoroughly at one or two stores. Some points to be aware of:

  • POS software version. Stores should all be using same version of software that was used to create the menu.
  • Back office settings like tax rates, print routes, and security rights. These are often set at the store level. But they may need to be changed to support a new corporate menu. Above store tools can help you manage back office software settings from head office. This is done by allowing you to push packages of pre-configured settings to the restaurants’ POS systems.

“Standardize as much as you can across locations,” advises Stalnaker. “We’re working towards standard sizes, pricing methods, coupons, and topping pricing. It’s hard work, but it’s worth the effort in the long run.” He gives one example of the payoff: “Corporate menus make it possible for us to use some of the deeper features offered by our POS, like inventory software, because all locations have the same recipes and units of measure.”

Find out more

Are you using a master menu for multiple locations? If not, what’s holding you back?

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