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In my last blog I commented on how our poor economy was slowing down implementation of new technologies such as digital menu boards. I received a lot of comments about that from friends in my industry and we discussed how to keep going in this economy. Following are some of the comments and advice I received:
Stay small and flexible. Keep up with what's going on in your markets to determine the current and future needs of your customers. Keep up with new technologies that could replace one or more of your product lines or offer a new product line. New technology is spawning new products very quickly. Gone are the days when you could ride a "cash cow" product line for decades. You may consider outsourcing operations and skills that require large investments and long payback periods. Avoid being stuck with expensive product lines that could be replaced very quickly with new technology.
Focus on your strengths; do what you do best. You have to keep developing new products and improving existing products to stay competitive, but be careful about spreading out too quickly into areas outside your area of expertise.
Go where the business is. I had a very difficult time with this issue. Having spent a lot of time and money developing and selling digital menu boards to the larger quick serve restaurant chains makes it very difficult for me to stop. However, that's not where the business is at this time. Most digital menu boards are being purchased by small chains and new start up concepts. So, I will concentrate on that area of the market until the large chains start adopting the new technology.
When you do sell a new technology project, especially a large one, make sure you do it right. You and your customer will lose big time if you don't. Unfortunately, I know of many examples where this rule was not followed. A major reason for delays in the adoption of digital menu boards and digital signage is the failure we have experienced in the past. I am encouraged by the fact that these failures have become much less frequent.