Restaurant Menu Personalization That is Truly Personalized
What is menu personalization?
To many in the industry (including our competitors), personalization seems to be another word for a marketing tactic. For example, some brands might use the word personalization to describe a limited-time menu item that they hope will bring a targeted demographic into their stores. That’s not personalization.
Some brands or operators use what they call "personalization technology" in their PoS, kiosks, digital menu display boards, or mobile ordering apps that make suggestions based on previous orders, location data, weather, time of day, or other "observable" data. For example, suggesting that a guest order soup on a cold day. That’s not personalization.
These basic recommendations are helpful enhancements to make compared to static menus and implemented properly, can help the locations grow their sales. But let's be clear -- recommendations like ordering soup on a cold day and other 'dynamic' menu tricks are less about personalization in any way that benefits the person, and more about optimization that benefits the restaurant. Optimization can have a small impact on your sales — done right, personalization can change the game entirely.
Optimization or Personalization?
In another post, we'll dive into the difference between marketing, menu optimization, and true menu personalization, but today we're going to focus on how THE.FIT puts the "person" back into restaurant menu personalization and does so in a way that benefits both your customer and your revenue.
At THE.FIT, we believe that restaurant menu personalization should understand and benefit the person in their recommendations if they're going to have long-term value. This means going beyond simple demographics, observations, or past-purchase information and using data with deeper meaning as the input to help provide a personalized menu that's materially better for the guest, not just a simple recommendation like "hey, it's cold today, order the soup!".
Over 100 Million People Need Personalization
If you ask a random person to list 10 ways you could personalize a menu for someone, there's a pretty good chance they'll list diet, food allergies, or dietary preferences at the top of the list. And for good reason -- over 100 million Americans are currently watching what they eat or dealing with some kind of dietary restrictions, and these numbers continue to climb year after year.
Given that half of the people in your stores at any given time could find value in a "dietary" personalized menu, that's the problem we decided to solve first. And not by chance, either. Our founder, Scott Sanchez, created THE.FIT after struggling with his weight and losing 180 pounds. For nearly a decade, Scott was “that guy” every time he ate out. Googling beforehand, asking the servers multiple questions, taking extra time reading the menu, and dealing with the anxiety that what he was ordering wasn’t the best possible choice. As the story goes, Scott said "there should be an app for this!" and the idea for THE.FIT was born as a way for restaurants to offer true personalization on their menus, starting with dietary personalization.
Creating THE.FIT to focus on the Person
We've created and trained our Personalization AI on a long list of diets, dietary preferences, food restrictions, and other issues that over 100 million Americans are dealing with. Your guests tap a few buttons on their phone to specify their dietary preferences, and in seconds, our Personalization AI returns a truly personalized menu. We can also apply the "optimization" techniques that are popular such as weather or time of day recommendations and can pull in information from past orders and loyalty programs. But the dietary personalization based on the actual person is where the real value comes in.
Balancing the Person with Your Business
The best part? Our Personalization AI also understands that you're running a business, and we take margin and ticket-size optimization into account in our recommendations. A simple example would be a guest that specifies that they're avoiding gluten AND eating low carb. If you have a burger on your menu, we could recommend they skip the bun, which would solve their problem. But we want to solve their problem AND make you more money. So we'll use our understanding of your margin and operations capabilities to suggest something like replacing the bun with an upgrade to a bed of spinach and avocado.
The result is a truly personalized menu that delights your guests and gives you bigger ticket sizes with better margin. Now that's what we call win-win.