3 key digital signage tips for restaurants
Many restaurants are embracing digital signage, whether due to upcoming FDA regulations or a desire to boost customer experience. At the Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit, multiple panels addressed digital signage and how best to utilize it.
While technology moves rapidly, panelists urged restaurants to slow down. This might seem counterintuitive, but individual technologies such as apps, menu boards and other tools can really add up.
Doug Hogrefe, partner at 4 Top Hospitality, brought up during a panel entitled, "Conquering the Industry's Top 5 Revenue Drainers" how restaurants can get blinded by all the cool tools out there, which lead to overspending on technology. In reality, restaurants need to determine that the tool is right for the customer and the customer's experience.
"Patience is key," Spencer Rubin, founder and managing partner, Melt Shop, said during the panel. "Don't make the mistake of jumping in too early."
Restaurants should consider running tests to make sure the technology, such as a menu board, actually works and that it offers a real benefit to customers.
Get franchisees on board
Even if you have the greatest technology in the world, it can be difficult to get all of your individual franchisees on board. It is incredibly important to work closely with franchisees to deploy the tech.
At a panel entitled "Franchisees Tell All: Are You Listening?" Daven Acker of Pizza Inn, Mike Monson of Sub Station II and Julie North of Chicken Salad Chick discussed the challenges franchisees run into with tech adoption. Acker, for example, pointed out how many franchisees are still running way behind on tech and aren't prepared for a big deployment.
"We are a 60-plus year-old business, and many franchisees still use cash registers," Acker said.
The panelists recommended that franchisors get franchisees started slowly on digital signage and other tools. One way to do this is to have a solid relationship with the franchisees and sell them on the overall vision behind the deployment.
"Instead of trying to sell them on new technologies, the first thing I'd want to do is resell them into the brand," Monson said.
Understand your customer
In order to have a successful deployment, your restaurant needs to clearly understand your customers. During a panel entitled, "Is your franchise ready for the tech revolution," Chris Caldwell, CIO, KFC, Brad Gardone, vice president of IT, Long John Silver's, and Mike Nettles, CIO of Papa John's addressed how customer expectations are changing faster than ever.
"The real disruption is that customers are changing their expectations," Nettles said during the panel. He added that customers expect a seamless experience from online to the storefront.
In order to meet these expectations, restaurants need to do a lot of research to truly understand trends ranging from customers' favorite beverages to their communication preferences.
Nettles pointed out that if your restaurant engages on particular social media platforms, it will need to clearly understand the culture of that platform. Reddit, for example, is more cynical than Facebook. You will also need to "ditch the suit and tie," and be prepared for negative feedback.
On the menu side of things, your restaurant needs to understand what customers expect from your menu boards. Michelle Davis, senior director of sales, F'real Foods, moderated a panel entitled, "Using mixology to liven up your menu without confusing your customers," on this topic.
Davis pointed out that 52 percent of consumers want photos of drinks on the menu and 50 percent want more specific details on the menu board, such as the ingredients, brands, flavors and price. Customers are also demanding more specialty drinks on the menu.
Your technology will only be as effective as your own knowledge on your customer's identity and expectations.
Image via Istock.com.
Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.www