Digital menu boards can make a big difference in a quick-service restaurant's sales and even bottom line profits. But, like all things marketing, operators must understand that all of these devices are not created equal and getting the most bang for your buck out of these communication tools means knowing both your objectives and which type of device best meet those.
That was the over-arching theme of a free hour-long webinar now available here for our readers on how best to evaluate menu boards, featuring professional guidance from Wand Corporation and its sales engineer and digital menu board guru, Gary Hoover. Hoover is a virtual encyclopedia of all things menu boards and said for restaurant operators delving into this digital domain, it all begins with knowing your business objectives.
So leadership need to determine whether they want to educate customers, enhance the customer experience, boost sales or brand loyalty, drive traffic or any other of a wide number of possible business betterment goals.
Solid work on this primary step then can provide the path to the best menu board provider, which will naturally be one that specializes or has great word-of-mouth in the primary goal area. Once the provider is selected, that's when the decisions about hardware and content and campaign management begin in earnest.
One of the major considerations with hardware is whether to go with consumer grade or commercial components.
"Consumer grade is what you likely have in your home for watching TV," Hoover said during the webinar. "They are going to be less expensive and will get the job done, but will they be reliable and will they last?"
Hoover said that commercial grade displays, if built properly, can withstand high heat, humidity, grease and dust.
Another hardware consideration is screen size. Important considerations here include the area available for setup and installation. Just as important are distance requirements, potential sight-line obstructions and space constraints that will affect customers' ability to read what's on the screen.
Additional items to keep in mind include determining which type of media player works best with the display and screen resolution you're choosing to provide optimum viewing
Hoover said that when it comes to menu board content, "It's not just about the menu options. ... It's now about selling!"
He recommended incorporating animated content that can catch the customer's eye, and making use of the "golden triangle," the pattern that the human eye typically follows when viewing a menu — starting at the center, then moving up to the right and across to the left.
A restaurant can use this pattern to its advantage through the thoughtful placement of content. For example, a QSR that has a superior selling sandwich might consider putting a beautiful photo of that hot item front and center of the board to draw eyes in to the content.
Then as far as content creation, careful preparation is essential, along with knowing the answers to a few very important questions. Hoover said some of these include:
- Do you have the technological expertise on staff to really bring your menus to life?
- Do you have people on staff who can take your static photography and add subtle animations to make that burger look more appealing?
- Can you build HTML content for the menu boards?"
If the answer to each of these questions is not a confident yes, the business should seek out a digital signage provider who can help create high-quality professionally designed content.
The final point to consider is how your QSR's campaigns will be managed. For a limited installation, it's fine to use a USB-based solution to load content. However, the larger the deployment, the more important it becomes to consider implementing an efficient and well-designed content management system.
Hoover recommended analyzing any system based on ease of use, the level of development, and frequency of updates, campaign delivery capabilities and integration considerations. He emphasized the importance of asking additional questions, as well, including:
- How complicated will it be to onboard a new location and how long will it take a new manager to learn the interface, if required?
- Does the CMS provides training and ongoing support?
- Does the CMS use templates that will easily accommodate development and updates?
- What media formats are supported, how is content updated, and how long does that take?
- How easy or difficult is it to monitor, manage and deploy campaigns, and how many campaigns can be scheduled at once?
"Can you deploy a single campaign to all your stores?" Hoover asked. "Say, for example, all your stores have the exact same menu content, but [you] also deploy separate campaigns to groups of stores to support regionalized promotional content."
Lastly, Hoover recommended that menu board buyers make a point to ask whether the content management system their brand is choosing will easily integrate with other systems, including POS and social media platforms, as well as whether the chosen system can pull in HTML data feeds, increasingly important to topnotch QSR operations management.
Editor's note: The original version of this article was published on sister site, Digital Signage Today.
Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.www