Howard Company Blog

How to Order A Menu Board Step 3

July 7, 2015 / by Cheryl K

3 - What Does my menu board dollar buy?   


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After looking at all the menu board system design options, you are ready to make some preliminary decisions on which system best fits your budget. Most good menu board companies can give you ball park estimates based off your menu mix created in the first step of your plan. You will want a system that offers the best display of your new menu board in your restaurant environment – the best “bang for your buck”!             

Illuminated menu boards will cost out in a “mid-range” price area, depending upon how many light boxes are needed to fully display your menu content with pictures. Weeding out food items rarely ordered or with a low profit margin helps to reduce the number of panels needed. And interspersing the menu items with food pictures will also needs to be studied – what is the right balance? Full pictures, or part pictures and menu text? How often will you need to update your content and what will that cost? What is better - LED lighting or traditional fluorescent tube light boxes? LED-lit light panels last quite long, don’t use as much electricity and doesn’t need replacement tubes or ballasts like the more traditional style. Calculate the energy cost over the year and include that with your final decision.

Magnetic systems have a wide cost range, from less expensive basic square panels to elaborate routed custom shapes to match your restaurant theme. Chalk boards or erasable panels are also options for those who have tight budget restraints. If you need front lighting, spot lights or light strips can illuminate the panels with minimal expense. Be sure the menu system is designed so you can move the panels around to update your look or layout – no need to replace the whole system if you want to renovate your space in the future. Most magnetic panel systems can be a great choice for the budget conscious restaurant owner who wants both versatility and a cost effective menu board system.

Digital Display menu systems are certainly worth a look if you want something sleek and modern, but will be on the high end in cost. Digital menu systems are NOT TVs, but specialized monitors meant to display content over long periods of time; don’t be lulled into thinking you can just put up a TV screen and make it work in a restaurant situation. You also need to factor in the shorter life span of the digital monitor – most will need replacing in four to five years. If you are incorporating digital panels with a new restaurant financing package, it may make sense to review your options in purchasing a digital system. You will have many programming alternatives to select from depending upon your needs, as most digital system providers offer different levels of software and support with their displays.

Whew! Wasn’t that fun? One more step to go – let’s PREPARE for our new board!

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Topics: Indoor Menu Boards

Cheryl K

Written by Cheryl K

Cheryl K has been part of the point of sale and menu board industry in many capacities for the past 25 years.