Choice is good, but too much of it is not. It can overwhelm your customers and stifle your operations. Here’s a quick guide to why sometimes less is more.

Ever heard of the Paradox of Choice?

Historically, we’ve been led to believe that choice is a good thing — to the extent that modern economics practically relies on it. Fashion brands release new styles every season, grocery aisles are stuffed with numerous variations of the same thing and new hairstyles pop-up at the speed of toast. But lost in the race for more, is the paradigm that more choice might not necessarily be that great for your customer’s happiness.

Contrary to popular belief, more choice doesn’t necessarily mean greater customer happiness. Studies have shown that reducing the number of choices can greatly reduce the fear of missing out and aid a positive customer experience.

In his 2004 book, The Paradox of Choice, psychologist Barry Schwartzargued that eliminating choices can greatly reduce anxiety for consumers. The reasoning goes something like this — for every additional option added, our minds need to process new information and decide what’s best. Every time such a decision is made, chemicals of gratification churn making us happier. But after a certain point, the mind reaches its limit and cannot fully assess the situation leaving us in a state of confusion and doubt over what we’ve chosen. It’s a downhill slope from there.

So, how is this matter of any importance to your restaurant business? It stands to reason that it might be the number one factor to consider while designing your food menu. Instead of presenting your customers with a mile-long list of cuisines from across the Pacific and Atlantic, it might be more beneficial to stick to a brief, crisp, focussed menu. Here are a few reasons why —

1. Win over your competition with instant brand recognition

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When people think of Khan Chacha, they think kebabs. When people go to Paradise, they order the Hyderabadi Biryani. It’s instinctive and has been ingrained in their minds over years of consistent quality and focussed branding. That’s the best way to succeed as a restaurant — pick a cuisine and be the best at it. When people start associating a certain craving to your restaurant, they will come. Keeping the menu short will help you be recognized instantly for the amazing food you offer.

2. Stronger marketing impression and easier conversions

Screenshots from Zomato and Swiggy Listing Pages

The restaurant industry is hyper competitive and nothing sums it up just as well as any food aggregator app does. Take a look at these screenshots of a typical Swiggy and Zomato listing page. You at most get 20% screen space and you’ve got to convey your entire brand message in just that. The attention span of a user is less than a second. If you offer everything under the sun and call yourself “Just Another Restaurant”, it’s going to get real hard real quick. It’s your focus that will differentiate you.

3. Easier quality control and higher consistency

Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

In our previous article, we spoke at length about the importance of quality and consistency to the success of any restaurant. But how can you maintain great quality when there are 200 items on your menu? It’s practically impossible to make sure you source the right ingredients, attract good chefs and train them well, for every single item. Keeping the menu nice and short is your saving grace here. It’ll allow you to master the process of delivering high quality dishes and keep things tight on the long run.

4. Leaner, meaner kitchen operations

Photos by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

Waste is a persistent enemy of every restaurant business. You just can’t avoid it, but you can definitely reduce it. Recipe and inventory management are nightmares for any restaurant manager, only made worse by long, extensive menus. With a smaller menu, there are just fewer things to keep track of. It reduces the workload on your staff and allows them to match demand and supply better. You can then stock up on the freshest ingredients, use them efficiently and reduce the overall waste. Less waste means more profit. So go right ahead, trim down your menu and reap the benefits!


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