Okay so what’s the story? First it was Burger King, who billed itself as the only place where you could order a burger and “have it your way.” Then of course they developed there famous Whopper ‘secret sauce’. Now there are several Burger chains that have a secret sauce of their own. McDonald’s puts it on their Big Macs, In n Out has one, as does Jack-In-The-Box, Carl’s Jr, and the new kid on the block, Five Guys. I’m sure if anyone’s really interested you could simply Google it and quickly find out just what’s in the secret sauce.
Now the big story in burger land is secret menus! That’s right secret menus! Several burger and fast food restaurants have joined the secret menu club. The most talked about is In n Outs, but their secret menu is really not that big of a secret as it is posted on its website. But not all of their secret selections are posted there, some remain known only to those cool customers who are in the ‘know.’ Pull into any In n Out drive thru and you won’t see a thing about these secret selections on their billboard menu. Most customers don’t have a clue.
So what’s on their secret menu? How about a 3by3, a three patty burger, a 4by4, a mouth stretching four patty burger, protein burgers served on lettuce instead of a bun, a veggie burger with no meat, what they call a ‘flying Dutchman’ which is a 2by2 with no bun, no vegetables, and no spread. You can also order your burgers ‘Animal Style’ which includes additional sauce, grilled onions, mustard and pickles. And if your feeling a little daring you can even get your order with chopped yellow chilies on board!
In n Out also serves cheese fries and ‘Animal’ fries that have melted cheese, spread, and grilled onions and cheese fries. In n Out also offers up their own grilled cheese sandwiches!
And that’s not all. They also offer variations on their drink menu like the “Arnold Palmer” a mixture of iced tea and lemonade, “Lemon Up” a mixture of lemonade and 7 Up, root beer floats, Choco-vanilla swirl shakes and even a Neapolitan shake! Unless you’ve worked at In n Out or know someone who does I betcha didn’t know all that now did you?
Most retaurants have some kind of a ‘secret menu some more extensive than others, for example McDonald’s has numerous items on their secret menu and includes things like the “Monster Mac” which has 8 patties, a “Pie McFlurry”, a pie blended into a McFlurry, the “McGangBang”, a double cheeseburger with a chicken patty in between the two beef patties and the “Land, Sea and Air Burger”, a beef patty, chicken patty, and fillet-o-fish patty all piled high onto a single bun. Burger King has quite a list as well, the most popular item on it being its ‘suicide burger.’ And it’s not only Burger stands, Jamba Juice, Starbucks, Dairy Queen, Panera, Taco bell and a host of others have joined the ‘secret menu’ club.
Sounds kinda interesting right? But what’s the big deal with ‘secret menu’s anyway? Okay so it allows restaurants to offer more than whats on the regular menu but what good are they if the items aren’t posted for all customers to see? Some restaurants believe that putting all the items on the regular menu would create a problem for customers and be overwhelming. Menus would have to be extremely large or the print would have to be too small for customers to easily read. Besides many of the secret items are nothing more than variations of a regular menu item and offer customers flexibility on how they want their fast food prepared. You can really have it your way!
It’s a secret menu right? So how do you get the word out to your customers? Well you simply have to talk it up. Employees can tell customers, friends and family and let them know they can be more flexible with their ordering. Customers can spread the word. There’s nothing like good old fashioned word of mouth. Restaurants can also share the information informally by way of Facebook, Twitter or their own websites. Let’s face it In today’s economy restaurants are looking for an edge to make a connection with customers and secret menus can give them that edge. Customers who learn about the secret menus feel special, they know something that not everyone knows about which makes them feel a personal connection to the restaurant. They are now insiders, they are in the ‘know’.
Well it seems restaurants have come up with a new low cost sales gimmick, a new way to advertise and bring in customers, and so far it seems to be working pretty well. Perhaps the next time you go out to grab a bite to eat you should be more interested in what’s not on the menu than what’s on it. You may be in for quite a treat!