When is it time to re-evaluate the appearance of your menu board? Does it have to be almost falling off the wall before you realize you need to do something?
One of our pet peeves is to walk into a quick-service restaurant (QSR) and see a menu board with half the backlighting burned out, tape holding panels together, dry marker crossing off items no longer served, faded and yellow graphics! Consider this: your guests look at the mish-mash that is your menu board system and wonder if you are also as careless about how your food is cooked and served!
If your menu board is over five years old and you have not touched or updated it since you hung it on the wall, now is the time to take action! Whether you are a one-location restaurant or a chain of 200, you should include budgeting for menu board system changes and updates in your fiscal planning from the day you open for business. Nothing hits your pocketbook harder than having to make an outlay for something for which you did not budget, especially something so essential as a menu board.
Create a strategy for your future – project when you might need updates. Here are some suggestions:
- Create a 5-year plan that includes fresh paint, flooring, seating, menu updates, etc. Spreading out smaller expenditures annually to keep your site current is more painless than having a difficult discussion with your banker when you need to make a significant investment. This conversation would be even harder if your customer base were in decline because your business looks old and tired and not well-kept.
- We all know pictures sell food! If yours are faded and yellow, look into updating with new pictures – colorful, well-designed food photos are easy to find in stock photo websites. You can update images even if you don’t change out your menu items.
- Take a minute to change out those burnt-out fluorescent tubes!
- Consider cleaning up your menu listings: menu engineering goes a long way to help you feature your higher profit offerings. Re-evaluate your line items - your goal should be to increase your profitability per guest. Current studies are showing “less is more” in the foodservice industry.
- Lastly, this would be a great time to evaluate if the time is right to move to digital menu boards. They would instantly upgrade the guest experience and allow you menu flexibility that can lead to higher margins.
Focus on your brand and what you want your guests to remember about their dining experience. Your menu board is the first thing your guests focus on when they walk into your restaurant. Make it a positive encounter!
This article was originally published on September 17, 2015. The content has been updated.