Don’t skip this step. It is essential, and it can be as easy as walking around your restaurant with your new creations and offering free samples to people and getting their initial reaction.
I was recently in Chicago at Butterfield’s working on a menu makeover and we were reviewing new items to add to the menu. I suggested they take the food around to other tables to see what their customer thought. The result was an immediate appreciation for the items potential, and three wound up on the menu with one going on for more development and further testing.
If you’re in doubt, try selling the item as a feature or special. Do this a few times over a period of a few weeks to gauge the initial reaction, and then the follow up sales. The best way to feature the items is with a break in between offerings. What you’re looking for is how many people bought the items the second time. The first time is easy; it’s the follow up sales that are important, because they will tell you how many of your customers would make a habit of the item.
If any of your new items sell well initially but fall off in the second round of testing, then you probably either need to improve the item or skip it and move on to something else.
If you’re on the fence with any new product, remember the old adage: When in doubt, do without.
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