You are probably a typical Quick Service Restaurant operation - you've been in business for a few years, and have had a good run because of smart marketing and a great product. Maybe you bought an existing property and have nursed it from a "just getting by" business to one with a good financial return. You've dabbled in thoughts of updating your shop to appeal to a broader base of customers, or looked at the cost of using newer technology to keep your "techie" crowd coming in the door. Where do you start? What products out there will be cost effective yet bring you up to speed with your competitors?
Taking the first steps in exploring equipment options is a little scary. You can "google" restaurant menu board design and sort through any number of websites pushing their products, or walk the aisles at trade shows (if you have time!) and glad-hand a multitude of restaurant equipment suppliers and still not be able to wallow through the literature to pin-point what will work best for you and your shop. There are start-ups all over wanting to cash in on the current trends in the restaurant business, and not all have the experience or the longevity to be there for you when a product fails or doesn't perform as you expected. Because you KNOW equipment breaks down!
Part of your preparation and research should include a good background check of the companies who offer the line of equipment that seems to be the best fit for you. See what others think about their customer service. Do they offer a fair warranty on their products? How about installation - will they work with you on YOUR time line so the store has the least downtime for your updating? Will they be around tomorrow if you want to change or add to your new equipment?
Then there are the equipment solutions themselves: do suppliers want to shoe-horn their products to fit your needs, or are they willing to listen to what you want, explore options, and offer you viable and cost-conscious solutions that work FOR YOU? There isn't a "one size fits all" answer for restaurant businesses! Are they willing to admit their strengths and weaknesses, or do they offer answers outside their capabilities? Honesty and integrity are ideals to be valued in any business relationship!
Sometimes the best approach to researching and finding the best solutions for your restaurant is to reach out to your local restaurant supply house. They work with and know companies who are strong in creating solutions for restaurant industry needs. If you look online, check out the history of the manufacturer you are considering. If available, read the comments from others who have made purchases. If you are able, network with other restaurants to see what they've found that works best for them, because chances are if the manufacturer is good and reliable, other shops will be using their products. Bear in mind if one solution works for someone else, it may not work for you; perhaps that company offers an array of product solutions you can tailor to your needs, or will work with you to find your perfect answer.
Maybe you aren't ready right now to make the big move to buy new menu boards or equipment for your restaurant. But it certainly pays to be prepared for the day when you take that step, and spending some valuable time doing your research ahead of time and building those relationships with a company you trust will benefit you in the long run!