Create Estimates Like Menu Boards

Some of the most successful restaurants are those with the simplest of menus.

In-N-Out Burger

The menu itself is a prime example of In-N-Out’s intense focus on simplicity to maximize quality and minimize expenses.  Items on the menu are largely unchanged from the original restaurant stand and exhibit a rare marriage of quality and affordability:

  • 3 Burger Choices: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Double Double (most expensive at $3.40*)
  • French Fries
  • Beverages: Soda (4 sizes), Shakes (3 flavors), Coffee, Milk

Since its inception, In-N-Out Burger has enjoyed tremendous success, growing annual sales to approximately $400mm per analyst estimates and consistently earning a #1 ranking in the fast food burger chain segment, ahead of competitors such as Wendy’s, Five Guys’ and Fuddruckers. 

While you may have created a very complex spreadsheet to figure out your pricing, don’t show this to a client. Don’t abandon it either. You need this to help you in the future as costs change to figure your pricing.

After you do a job you may want to go back to that spreadsheet and adjust the numbers.

Keep Menu in Mind

Just like in photography you keep things simple for design purposes, this holds true for your estimate and pricing. Restaurant patrons aren’t looking to be overwhelmed when it comes to reading a menu. A clean, simple design will convert better than a list of options or large chunks of expository text. A visually pleasing design effectively uses white space and naturally guides the eye to key menu items.

Your customers are the same. Keep it simple.

Ditch the dollar signs

Pricing shouldn’t be the center of attention. One way to downplay price is to remove any associated dollar signs as they tend to elicit a negative emotional response. You want them to concentrate on the content, not the price. 

Don’t line up the prices

A list of prices that is aligned to the left or right is easily scannable, which could encourage people to choose lower-priced items out of habit. Mixing up the placement of pricing throughout the estimate will minimize decisions based on price comparisons.

Use simple, descriptive language

Try to avoid industry jargon or long sections of text that will confuse people. Yes, more and more people consider themselves experts, but simple, descriptive language in the item’s title will attract more sales. 

Chick-fil-A® Chicken Sandwich
A boneless breast of chicken seasoned to perfection, hand-breaded, pressure cooked in 100% refined peanut oil and served on a toasted, buttered bun with dill pickle chips. Gluten-free bun or multigrain bun also available at an additional cost.
440 Calories
19g Fat
40g Carbs
28g Protein