Breakfast Profitability: Is a Morning Meal Right for Your Business?


There is plenty of good news for you if you’ve been thinking of adding breakfast to your menu. The American Egg Board and QSR Magazine teamed up recently to present a webinar titled Breakfast: The Incredible Eggspanding Market. Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:

  • Breakfast sales are climbing. The restaurant industry overall is expected to do well in 2012, with breakfast showing the fastest growth in both numbers of visits and dollars spent per visit.
  • Despite the growing penetration of restaurants offering breakfast, breakfast sales are projected to continue to rise.
  • Breakfast sandwiches have shown the greatest growth of breakfast foods.
  • Morning meal prices are growing faster than other parts of the day, despite the growing competition.
  • Breakfast routines are habitual; consumers tend to patronize the same places on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Breakfast routines also tend to be spread out into several occasions, with consumers stopping at one place for a drink and at another place for a sandwich or snack.

All signs indicate that breakfast is and will continue to be a major profit-driver. Although adding breakfast to the menu and opening up the doors in the morning hours is not the right choice for every business, it might be the right choice for more businesses than you’d think. Many pizza companies, for example, have recently added breakfast pizza to the menu and discovered it to be a successful seller. The key is innovation! And a little market analysis. Here are some things to consider when deciding if adding breakfast is right for your business:

Consider Your Location

Is your business in a residential or commercial neighborhood? Residential areas have mostly breakfasthabitsweekend visitors, while commercial areas have more day traffic.

  • If you are in a commercial area, the key to breakfast success is speed, as it will be difficult in a commercial district to get consumers to sit down for a morning meal. If your business is quick-serve or fast-casual, breakfast may be a good option for you.
  • Residential businesses might do well opening up for breakfast on the weekends, when consumers will have extra time to spend dining out.

Consider Your Operation

Some concepts lend themselves well to a breakfast menu while others do not. Breakfast tends to be an inexpensive meal, so if your restaurant is a higher-end establishment adding breakfast will likely be unfeasible. First, consider your commercial kitchen set-up:

  • New equipment purchases may be needed. This can include a commercial griddle, commercial toasters, or commercial espresso machines.
  • Refrigerated and pantry storage may also need to be expanded or reorganized to accommodate the additional products purchased for the breakfast menu.

Second, consider your existing inventory:

  • Do you have ingredients on hand that can be easily re-purposed for breakfast menu items? This is the most cost-efficient way to add breakfast to your menu

You will also need to consider staffing:

  • How flexible is your current staff to taking on additional hours in the morning?
  • Will they be unwilling to cover breakfast shifts, as these meals are cheaper and therefore come with lower tips?
  • Will you need to hire additional staff to provide the same level of service?

In some establishments staffing a morning meal is easy and profitable, while in others it presents more of a headache than anything else. Learn more about how to control labor costs.

Consider Your Customers

The best way to find out what your customers want is to talk to them. Ask around to find out what they think. Comment cards and short surveys in the check presenter are also a great way to get a feel for what your regular customers think of your idea. When asking customers in person or on a quick survey or comment card, be sure to cover such topics as:

  • Would they be willing to come in for breakfast?
  • What kind of breakfast experience will they be looking for?
  • If they do want to come to your restaurant for breakfast, would that make them decide against stopping by for lunch or dinner?

What you don’t want to do is add breakfast and only stretch your profits out over longer hours, increasing cost of labor. You can also utilize social media networks to survey your followers and learn more about their tastes and preferences.

Once you’ve determined that serving breakfast is a good idea for your business, here are a few tips on how to make it as profitable as possible:

Make Something New

This is the key to getting new customers. Find a void in your area’s breakfast niche and fill it. As breakfast market saturation rises, it is going to become more difficult to grab attention. Customers will be excited to try new flavors, new combinations and new concepts.  As cited above, breakfast patronage is habitual. If consumers can and do buy what you are offering at five other places nearby, they are not likely to change loyalties.

Make It Convenient

Consumers tend to be in a rush in the morning, and a smart menu planner will be sure to include meals that are easy on the go, like breakfast sandwiches. If you offer your customers a convenient, comfortable experience they will keep coming back again and again.


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Sara Henderson

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