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In the discussion - Indirect Cost Factors in Menu Pricing – by David V. Pavesic, Associate Professor, Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration at Georgia State University, Associate Professor Pavesic initially states: “Rational pricing methodologies have traditionally employed quantitative factors to mark up food and beverage or food and labor because these costs can be isolated and allocated to specific menu items. There are, however, a number of indirect costs that can influence the price charged because they provide added value to the customer or are affected by supply/demand factors. The author discusses these costs and factors that must be taken into account in pricing decisions.

Professor Pavesic offers as a given that menu pricing should cover costs, return a profit, reflect a value for the customer, and in the long run, attract customers and market the establishment. “Prices that are too high will drive customers away, and prices that are too low will sacrifice profit,” Professor Pavesic puts it succinctly.

To dovetail with this premise the author provides that although food costs measure markedly into menu pricing, other factors such as equipment utilization, popularity/demand, and marketing are but a few of the parenthetic factors also to be considered.

“… there is no single method that can be used to mark up every item on any given restaurant menu. One must employ a combination of methodologies and theories,” says Professor Pavesic. “Therefore, when properly carried out, prices will reflect food cost percentages, individual and/or weighted contribution margins, price points, and desired check averages, as well as factors driven by intuition, competition, and demand.”

Additionally, Professor Pavesic wants you to know that value, as opposed to maximizing revenue, should be a primary motivating factor when designing menu pricing. This philosophy does come with certain caveats, and he explains them to you.

Generically speaking, Professor Pavesic says, “The market ultimately determines the price one can charge.” But, in fine-tuning that decree he further offers, “Lower prices do not automatically translate into value and bargain in the minds of the customers. Having the lowest prices in your market may not bring customers or profit.

“Too often operators engage in price wars through discount promotions and find that profits fall and their image in the marketplace is lowered,” Professor Pavesic warns.

In reference to intangibles that influence menu pricing, service is at the top of the list. Ambience, location, amenities, product [i.e. food] presentation, and price elasticity are discussed as well. Be aware of price-value perception; Professor Pavesic explains this concept to you.

Professor Pavesic closes with a brief overview of a la carte pricing; its pros and cons.