Adding customization to your menu

Kasia PaprockiC-Store, Foodservice, General Insights

While diners of all ages have long delighted in customizing their meals, the build-your-own trend has now grown to epic proportions.  Consumers can make their own salads, pizzas, burgers, burritos and more and they can do it for an affordable price.  Some restaurants center their entire concept around this trend, and others offer 1-2 entrees that can be customized with toppings.  Whatever end of the spectrum you fall on its clear that consumers now expect to get food that exactly meets their preferences.

In fact Technomic reports that restaurants with create-your-own formats increased their sales by over 22%- who doesn’t want to say yes to that trend?  This trend isn’t really surprising: due to technology we’ve become conditioned to customize so many things so why should food be any different?  Not to mention when a consumer can customize their food it has a fresher made-from-scratch feel to it.

The biggest challenge is how you can tap into this trend while controlling costs and keeping your operation running efficiently so we’ve compiled some ideas for you:

Start small- review your menu and look for 1-2 items where you could easily offer a couple of options for customization.  One easy option is allowing customers to select the type of cheese or sauce to top their burger or sandwich with, and Bongards New Natural slices offer many affordable options to choose from in Mozzarella, Provolone, Swiss, Pepper Jack, and Cheddar.

 Mix and match- Think through what you can do by combining things you already have in your kitchen.  Perhaps you have mayo and pesto – voila your new pesto mayo can be a sandwich topping and a dipping sauce for fries.  Or maybe you have ketchup and Sriracha- this combo can put an entirely new spin on fries and burgers.

Get adventurous- use this as an opportunity to see what flavors your consumers get most excited about.  Those that are less adventurous can stick to the tried and true but it can be great market research for you to see what flavor trends appeal to your audience.