Keeping the menu fresh is one of an operator’s most important roles. And providing recipe inspiration is one of yours as a partner. By demonstrating your product’s versatility, your recipes can show time-starved operators how one ingredient can work in multiple items across the menu—benefitting operators and you—with increased sales.
So how do you ensure your recipes will attract customer attention and get utilized? The answer begins with conducting a thorough recipe audit. Take a close look at your collection of recipes online, on product sheets, and in your social media feed. Then give the boot to ones with old or dated photography. Whether flipping through the pages of a publication, or scanning the Internet, operators are drawn to images with appetite appeal—so professional photography is worth it! In addition, get rid of recipes that are overly complicated or that use too many hard-to-find ingredients. Most operators won’t follow recipes verbatim anyway. They WILL, however, use them as a jumping off place for coming up with their own signature creations.
After an initial purge, check to make sure the rest of your recipes pass the majority of these tests:
Are they inspiring and unexpected?
Do they truly break out of the mold and inspire a new use for your product or feature it in an unusual way? For example, an appetizer brand might bring a new twist to the classic grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup combo by pairing their breaded mozzarella sticks with a creamy tomato bisque. The pairing offers familiar flavors in a fresh new way.
Do they demonstrate your product’s versatility?
Showing how your product can take on a variety of menu roles lets the operator know that your product isn’t a one-hit wonder. Operators appreciate it when ingredients can work in multiple dishes. Highlighting the versatility can also inspire your sales force to set up samplings and demonstrations.
Are your recipes functional in the back of the house?
Most operations seldom have the time or staff expertise to create items with extra-long ingredient lists. Develop a simple format—perhaps no more than four ingredients—to ensure staff at any skill level can prepare. Also, make sure your recipes take into account the realities of your customers’ space and equipment. It’s no good to offer recipes that use a fryer, for example, if that type of operation normally doesn’t have one in the kitchen.
Do your recipes feel timely and in step with the seasons?
As the seasons change, operators are on the lookout for new menu specials. Featuring season-appropriate recipes front-and-center in your communications can provide the inspiration they need when they need it.
Can your recipes be easily replicated by a sales person?
Sampling is a critical part of the product sell-in process. “Getting it in their mouths” is often the deciding factor to purchase, so make sure you equip your internal and external sales forces with recipes that are easy-to-replicate under the time constraints and pressure of a product cutting. The confidence they exhibit in preparation makes an impression on operators. And since – according to the Marlin Network 2019 Influencing the Operator Purchase report – more than 40 percent of operators seek recipes from DSRs, the recipe demonstration can help enhance a sales person’s value in the eyes of the operator, along with the strength of the relationship.
Even the largest collection of recipes needs periodic pruning to stay interesting to operators. Be sure your recipes provide the relevant and functional solutions they need with an at-minimum, once-yearly checkup and ongoing, ear-to-the-ground communication with sales.