Published: 6 years ago

Your Menu Stinks

Last week we were back home in Tennessee, hanging out with family and enjoying a little summer downtime. As usual, part of the Extended Franks Family Experience involved food. Lots and lots of food. I come from a family that takes eating to an art form, and last week we toured the whole flippin’ gallery.

One of our regular stops is my hometown Mexican restaurant, La Fuente or El Toro or Niños Gordos or something like that. And like most Mexican restaurants, the menu is huge. Immense. There’s a page for the lunch specials, a page for dinner specials, a page for special specials, a page for a la carte items, and a page for combos. And then I’m pretty sure the whole menu starts over, just to mess with your head.

I love La Toro Gordos. I really do. The food is always great, but the on ramp to the food is frustrating. Let’s face it: whatever I ever order at any Mexican restaurant on the planet is going to involve some sort of layering of three ingredients: meat, cheese, and rice or beans. That’s it. It might be beans / cheese  / meat, or it might be cheese / meat / beans, but there ain’t a lot of creativity outside of that. And yet because of the menu, all 20 or so members of my extended family sound like we’re trying to deactivate a bomb…

Ummm…I think I’ll have theeeee….number 27…NO the combo 6…NO WAIT THAT’S NOT IT the mixed fajitas…NO THE RED WIRE! CUT THE RED WIRE!

See? Frustrating.

Contrast that to one of the newer-style chain Mexican restaurants, such as Chipotle. Chipotle takes the same menu items (meat, cheese, rice or beans) and simplifies it. You walk into a Chipotle and instead of dealing with a menu that looks like the 2013 US Federal Tax Code, you basically have to answer three questions: what do you want (burrito, taco, bowl)? What kind of meat do you want (chicken, steak, pork)? What do you want on it (rice, beans, salsa)?

Same options. Different approach.

Chipotle has done all the heavy lifting for us. Without taking away any of our options, they’ve removed some of our choices. And by the same token, they’ve removed most of the frustration.

I still get a great burrito, but I don’t have to look through six pages of options to get there. At a glance, I can see a clear pathway to get delicious Mexican goodness into my belly.

What does this have to do with church? I’m glad you asked!

Our menus stink. Too often we give people 47 million choices, when they just need a simplified next step. We want to talk to First Time Guests about how they can become a covenant member and start tithing and rock babies in the nursery and go on a mission trip…when they just need to know where the bathrooms are. We want to start a member down a 472 step discipleship process, when really they just need a list of the small groups in their zip code. We’ve taken the simple and made it complex, and by doing so we’ve frustrated people and possibly sabotaged a next step.

What is simple to us is complicated to our people. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

What menus do you have that you’ve overcomplicated? And where have you taken the complex and made it simple? I’d like to hear more…comment below.

(Oh, and Chipotle, if you’re listening, I’m currently accepting sponsorships.)


(click for photo credit)

  1. By Q&A: How Many On-Ramps Should We Provide? - Danny Franks on September 20, 2017 at 8:31 am

    […] less than you think. I like the parallel of the Mexican restaurant menu. I love Mexican restaurants, but there is a huge difference between La Hacienda (or whatever your […]

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