According to research by NPD Crest, 80 per cent of restaurant orders do not include dessert, so how can you ensure that your customers are ordering that final course and your business isn't missing out on the opportunity to boost sales?
Helping diners overcome their reluctance to purchase dessert needn’t be difficult. Here, I’ve listed what I consider to be the key ingredients needed to persuade people to purchase pudding.
Desserts are commonly viewed as an indulgence or treat, rather than a core part of every meal, so when diners do decide to treat themselves to an extra course, they want to make it count. This makes it more important than ever to focus on the quality of your selection.
As the saying goes, “a bad workman blames his tools”. The same applies in a kitchen environment. Use the best quality ingredients you can afford.
Stripping down your recipes and focusing on high quality, naturally sourced ingredients will reassure customers of the quality of your dishes and that they’re treating themselves to the very best.
Cater for everyone
As obvious as this sounds, customers are far more likely to order dessert if your selection matches their individual tastes and appetites. At the very least, always have a selection of hot and cold desserts, including a chocolate option and a light fruity dish or selection of ice-creams and sorbets.
Set-price menus are an ideal way to appeal to the cost-conscious. Having a set price for a full meal always makes it easier to know how much the meal is going to cost and encourages diners to have all three courses.
A great way to tempt those who are on a diet or who may feel too full for a more substantial dessert is to include miniature options. As the current popularity of sliders and cupcakes attests, miniature dishes are very much in vogue. Options such as Chocolate Brownies, Panna Cotta and Strawberry Tiramisu lend themselves particularly well to smaller portions.
The Power of Presentation
It may be a cliché, but customers really do eat with their eyes – just think about the impact of a temptingly presented dish as it makes its way past diners to a table.
Colour - A spectacle of colour on your plate acts as a visual stimulus and also helps bring to life the culinary flavour experience in your mouth. The browns of chocolate for example create a warm, harmonious taste, yellows promise a fresh and zesty aroma, while reds are fiery and piquant.
Simplicity - Keep your presentation uncluttered to show products in their best light. Elegance can be achieved in the simplest of forms, such as a chocolate curl draped over the top of a chocolate mousse and a useful way of keeping the plate clean and sharp is to present the garnish within the sauce.
Tableware - Remember that tableware has a big impact on presentation. White-ware provides a blank canvas, while contemporary options such as glass plates or presentation glasses can provide a modern feel.
Challenge expectations - Puddings don’t have to be round or tray baked, so don’t be afraid to experiment with domes, rectangles and teardrops. I love using moulds with a dip in the top you can fill with sauce or scoop ice-cream on top.
Sell, sell, sell
If you go to all this trouble to create a dessert menu you’re proud of, make sure your front of house staff know how to sell it.
Encourage them to put the dessert menu right into the hands of your customers while talking about the fabulous line up of desserts. Complement this with dessert menus that bring your selection to life with descriptions of ingredients used and flavour combinations.
Bear in mind that for many diners, the lasting memory of their experience is often the dessert. By focusing on the quality of your ingredients, the appeal of your menu and taking time to create show stopping presentation, you’ll be doing everything you can to leave a lasting impression that will encourage them to indulge time and again.