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The Four “T”s of Digital Restaurant Menu Boards

December 3, 2019 / by Jean Jones

Digital Menu Board

As consumers, we see digital menu displays everywhere. It is 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 their board, what happens then? Let's examine the four "T"s you should think about once you have 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 is what your guests look at when determining what they want to order. Hopefully, you have done your research to see what menu board best fits your situation and budget. You have 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 easily read what you offer? Or are you confusing them with a mix of this and that, making final dining decisions difficult? What you display should make sense to your guests and have a good flow from category to category. Your goal is to achieve better sales. The tool includes software that allows you to easily update and move content to help maximize your bottom line.

Second “T”: Once you have uploaded your content to the digital display, do not 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 would like to introduce to your guests? Test it first by featuring it alone in one of your screens. Add an image to make it stand out. Your sales history reflects what items are ordered most 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. Remember, the key to an accurate test is to change only one variable at a time. 

You may want to consider testing a single digital restaurant menu before investing in a complete system. Try out a single digital screen with a simple design template. Promote your menu with pictures or show healthy options. Engage waiting customers and set the tone for the experience you want guests to have at your restaurant. Don't be afraid to switch things up in the test phase to see what works best.

Third “T”: TELL your story! Use a digital screen in the queue 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 does not 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 techy. There are two sides to the tech question - the user side and the provider side. As a user, are you ready to dive in with new digital menu displays? Are you or one of your staff equipped to spend the time and effort into keeping your new technology up and running effectively? Because we all know, unexpected things can happen with technology. Someone on your team should take the time to learn how to operate the software, both to troubleshoot simple snafus and for occasional updating. As for the provider, 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 provider should offer hosting, content creation, consulting, and 24/7 support.

A digital menu board is like a living, breathing thing – it must continuously be visually engaging, whether that means 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 leave it unaltered for months at a time. With digital you have the flexibility to change your offerings based on the season, changes in cost of goods or even on a whim. You may be surprised on the impact to your bottom-line.

Now that you have explored some “T”s of digital restaurant menu boards, you will hopefully achieve other successes with your new system: better communication with your guests, better bottom-line, and more flexibility with your menu content. Digital menu displays are not going away. Look for a provider like The Howard Company who can help you with all four "T"s.

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Topics: Digital, Restaurants

Jean Jones

Written by Jean Jones

Jean Jones started in restaurant marketing in 1996 when she and her husband operated two fine dining restaurants in Wisconsin. After a detour into marketing for a real estate development firm, she returns to the restaurant industry with The Howard Company.