Digital menu boards: Overhyped or beneficial?
Digital menu boards are a hotly debated topic across food industry forums. In fact, I've been following a recent forum thread on chippy-chat.co.uk, with QSR owners voicing their views on whether making their menu digital would be advantageous or disastrous.
Perhaps not surprisingly, cost was high on the agenda. Those restaurant owners who had taken the plunge regarded the installation of digital menu boards as a wise investment. Those still wrestling with the idea highlighted cost concerns.
The Benefit of Digital Menu Boards
If you're unconvinced that digital menu boards can work for your restaurant, here's your opportunity to explore the benefits experienced by restaurants that have embraced digital.
It's no secret that digital signage requires an initial investment, in fact my research found that restaurant owners on chippy-chat were quoted anywhere between 1,000 pounds ($1222 for a single digital menu board) and 7,000 pounds ($8,554 for a 'small' network of digital displays).
But, here's why price shouldn't put you off. An infographic published by JCO products highlights that 11.5 percent of QSRs in the U.S. recoup their money within 6 months of installation. Here's a percentage breakdown of the average time it takes for restaurants to retrieve their initial investment:
- 0-6 months – 11.5 percent;
- 7-12 months – 30.8 percent;
- 13-18 months – 26.9 percent;
- 19-24 months – 19.2 percent; and
- 24+ months – 11.5 percent
The fact is, you stand to make your money back relatively quickly. The money you make beyond that becomes profit. What will interest you is the sales boost experienced by those restaurants, which ranges anywhere between 10 and 50 percent. This could be you!
Equally, those restaurants that have installed a digital menu network often refer to the cost saving they make. Replacing printed menu boards with digital displays is where QSRs experience a colossal cost saving.
Where hundreds of dollars used to be spent to change or add an item to menu posters, incurring print run costs, digital menus can be manually or automatically updated with no extra expense.
- U.S. restaurant chain? Changes to food laws mean that restaurants with 20 or more facilities must show the calorie count for each food item on the menu. Digital menu boards allow you to easily display these, eliminating the cost to reprint all your menus & bringing you into compliance with the law.
- You can upsell new menu items with an eye-catching display. Competition for customer attention is rife & the best way to 'get eyes on your menu' is to showcase your food with digital video displays.
- Digital menu boards are convenient. Tired of endlessly faffing with printed posters, putting them up & taking them down? It's no fun, is it? Save your business and staff, time.
- You can adapt your menu.Do you serve breakfast, lunch and dinner? Make menu changeovers a thing of the past. Control everything digitally to suit the time of day.
- Improve the customer experience.Digital reduces perceived waiting times, provided you're displaying engaging content. Satisfy your customers, potentially sell more.
- Create consistency.From a visual perspective, digital signage displays give you consistency. Displays are timely and up-to-date, whereas static posters take time to erect or simply remain in the storage room.
- When is a menu not a menu? During an emergency. Turn your menus into an exit guidance system or information board in emergency situations, it could save lives.
- Entertain.Your digital menus can be used to entertain customers. Throw in a few promotions and tasty looking menu items to drive sales and encourage guests to return.
- Train.Diversify your digital menu board(s) and use them to train staff, in-house, when out-of-hours.
- Save the planet and save money.Compared to posters, digital is greener and more cost-effective. See the savings you make when you cut printing, delivery, installation & disposal costs, out of the equation.
Seize an Opportunity
Drive-thru restaurant owner? Then you're in a particularly unique position. Going back to JCO's infographic, it shows that around 70 percent of QSR sales are generated by the drive-thru. However, just 27.3 percent of drive-thru facilities have installed digital menus. Here's your chance to take advantage and steal a march on your competitors.
Put Digital on the Menu
It's becoming increasingly apparent that the benefits of installing digital menu boards do outweigh the concerns. Digital is quicker, time & cost effective and greener. Looking at digital as a whole, every area of life is heading in the direction of digital.
It's worth noting that the digital signage revolution is not confined to transforming the food sector, it's spreading to every sector and you can believe the hype! The message is clear – 'don't get left behind.'
Daniel Waldron / Daniel is the Head of Content for award-winning, outdoor digital signage enclosure manufacturer, Armagard. Daniel blogs frequently on digital signage, while overseeing the complete content marketing mix and social media feeds for Armagard.