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Foreign Creatures

Snociety: Introducing New Items

restaurantJessicaComment

It's fun to own a shop because I'm constantly thinking of ways to improve and thinking of new items to sell. Selling items is easier when you already have an establishment (since it's already legal for you to sell things) but I learned that there's more to it than just printing a new item on your menu. Here are 6 questions I ask myself before including a new item to our menu. 

  1. Is the item consistent with your current menu?
    If my shop mainly sells poke, that means I'm not going to sell steak, omelets, curry, or tapas...I'm going to sell something in the theme of Hawaiian. It needs to make sense. If it doesn't make sense, then customers are going to question the type of restaurant you are and the quality of your food.
  2. What do I need to make the item?
    It's important to list out all the ingredients you need to make the item. If it requires a lot of ingredients, is it worth it?
  3. How difficult is it to source the ingredients?
    Am I going to get the ingredients at one of my current vendors or one of the places I normally shop at? Or will I have to find a new source? If I find a new source, is it worth the trouble? Does my new vendor have a minimum shipping fee? If I currently carry the ingredients, then that's perfect.
  4. Where do I store the items?
    A big thing at our shop is storage. I have to shop twice a week for our produce items because of our limited storage. Is there storage space for the ingredients and for the new items? If not, does that mean I have to cut some inventory items and shop more than twice a week?
  5. How much does it cost us and how much do we charge?
    This is an important question. We have to calculate the ingredient cost and the labor cost (the amount of time to make the item x wage), and see how much our competitors are charging. Then we come up with a price. If both ingredient and labor costs are high, but your pricing is low because you want to stay competitive, then it's probably not a good idea to sell your item.
  6. How do I advertise?
    When we are ready to include the new item to our menu, we have to make sure our menu is updated on all platforms. That includes our physical handout menu, our stand up menu, our online ordering platform, and our website. To promote your item, try selling it as a promotional item. Like "buy 2, get 1 free". Once customers notice your item and start asking about it more often, then you can sell your item at a normal price. Just make sure you're still making a profit during your promotional offer.   

These questions applied to us when we started to sell spam musubis. They were consistent with our Hawaiian menu. We needed rice, furikake, spam, roasted seaweed sheets, sauce. Out of all the ingredients, we only needed to buy spam and roasted seaweed sheets and those items were found at our current vendors. Since the items were small, we found storage for it. Our kitchen staff would make it in the morning and once it was sold out, then that would be it for the day. We decided that it was profitable only if it was sold in limited quantity. We didn't sell our spam musubi on our online ordering platform because it was limited quantity a day but we did put it on all our other platforms.

We also did this for our poke shrimp tacos. We sold them for a couple of months but in the end it wasn't for us.. It made a profit and it tasted good, but it wasn't worth the trouble to make.

It's easy for people to suggest things for you to sell but you have to think is it worth it for you and for your business? You can think it's easy to sell a lot of items because you can make a bigger profit, but there's a lot of other things to factor in that people may not see. You don't want to overwhelm your customers with too many options to choose from. Stick with what you're good at and maybe think about selling items seasonally instead of permanently.