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The Four “T”s of Digital Restaurant Menu Boards

By Cheryl K

Digital Menu BoardAs consumers we see digital menu displays everywhere. It’s all restaurant chains talk about – getting their franchisees into the digital menu board game. Local restaurants are dipping their toes into digital displays too. Menu board companies all seem to have their version of digital boards in their product lines. But once a user has installed his board, what happens then? Let’s examine the four “T”s you should think about once you’ve invested in updating your restaurant with your new digital menu board.

First “T”: Remember your restaurant menu board is a TOOL, meant to communicate what menu items you have to offer your dining guests. Whether you use the new digital displays, magnetic menu boards, or any other custom menu board, it’s what your guests look at when determining what they want to order. Hopefully you’ve done your research to see what menu board best fits your situation and budget. You’ve examined all the menu board options, compared costs, planned financially for upgrades and made your decision. Did you ask yourself if this TOOL works for your dining guests? Can they clearly read what you offer? Or are you confusing them with a mix of this and that, making final dining decisions difficult? Your TOOL should make sense to your guests and have a good flow from category to category. Your ultimate goal for this TOOL is to achieve better sales. The software programing as part of the investment you’ve put into the display should allow you to easily update and move content to help maximize your bottom line.

Second “T”: Once you’ve uploaded your content to the digital display, don’t let it become stagnant. TEST content placement and content products. Move your best selling items to the top, lower sales items to the bottom or side of the main menu content. Do you have something new you’d like to introduce to your guests? TEST it first by featuring it alone in one of your screens. Add a picture to make it stand out. Your sales history reflects what items are ordered more frequently, and if you TEST an item you should be able to track if it sells better or worse by where it sits on your menu board.

You may want to consider TESTing a single digital restaurant menu before investing in a complete system. Trying out a single digital screen with a simple design template promoting your menu with pictures or showing healthy food options not only engages waiting diners, but can set the tone for the atmosphere and experience you want guests to have at your restaurant.

Third “T”: TELL your story! Use a digital screen in the queue line with slides that share your philosophy with your guests. People enjoy learning about where you come from, why you do what you do, and along with that – why your guests are important to you. Your electronic menu display doesn’t always have to feature your menu; it can be promotional (think: Limited Time Offers), it can be engaging (try Trivia questions and answers), and it can TELL your guests about you or your community.

Fourth “T”: Remember: TECH is TECH. Are you ready to engage in new digital menu displays? Are you or one of your staff equipped to spend the time and effort into keeping your new TECH up and running effectively? Because we all know TECH can break down and your digital menu display will need updating. You need to know how to effectively operate the software programing used in electronic menu displays and what to do if it doesn’t work correctly. Is there TECH support in place to answer the questions you may have as you work in the software? Hopefully the digital menu board package you purchased includes more than just the hardware on the wall; your TECH provider should offer hosting, content creation support, consulting, and 24/7 support.

A digital menu board is almost a living, breathing thing – it must constantly be visually engaging, whether it’s changing out a food picture or menu listings according to the service time (breakfast, lunch or dinner) or running a news stream across the bottom of the screen. It would be a mistake to set up a digital screen and then leave it unaltered for months at a time. Missed sell opportunities such as doing a quick menu update when you get a great price from your wholesaler on a food item, or not changing your menu mix according to the seasons can affect your bottom line.

Now that you’ve explored some “T”s of digital restaurant menu boards, you’ll hopefully achieve other successes with your new system: better communication with your guests, increased bottom line sales, and more flexibility with your menu content. Digital menu displays are the wave of the future; use the “T”s to find out how your content impacts your ROI.

About Cheryl K

Cheryl K has been part of the point of sale and menu board industry in many capacities for the past 25 years. Since 2007 she has worked with The Howard Company's ecommerce websites developing webstores and content, and administering the CMS platform. Along with this responsibility she has worked in Customer Service, Graphic Design, and most recently helped in the redesign of the Howard's corporate webpages. She enjoys the challenges of serving Howard Company business partners and looks for opportunities to make purchasing solutions less complicated to the everyday consumer.

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