In an industry where margins are tight, and competition is fierce, you need every advantage to set your restaurant apart from all others and to increase brand loyalty with your patrons. Rather than using tired static menus, faded posters or chalkboards, restaurant operators are looking to Digital Menu Boards to combine product offerings with full-motion video, easily changing dayparts, as well as updating prices remotely and seamlessly adding or removing menu items. The ability to change content at a moment’s notice minimizing future printing and distribution costs is a tremendous advantage in operating any restaurant efficiently.
However, maximizing the benefits of digital menu boards takes some planning, and understanding several concerns and issues with deploying and managing digital menus may not be readily apparent to someone whose primary concern is serving quality food and taking care of guests.
You need to define your goals and success criteria for deploying digital menu boards. Using the latest technology just for the sake of “we have digital menus” is not the right move. Instead, you need to clearly understand your objectives, and redefine what ROI means to your business. For example, are you looking increasing sales, reducing perceived wait times, improving brand awareness and loyalty or are you looking to improve the look and feel of your restaurant. A lack of planning and understanding your goals may result in your new digital menus to simply become expensive static digital posters.
Fully managed digital menus have the ability to be much more than a list of your food offerings. They can be used to promote special items, highlight seasonal promotions, provide health and nutrition information, or entice customers about menu selections based on analytics gathered from your POS system. They are also perfectly suited to large scale installations where regional menus may differ and brand consistency is critical. But most of all, fully managed digital menus allow the restaurant operator to stay focused on their core business instead of worrying about their displays.
You also need to consider several environmental factors and a few infrastructure and equipment requirements. The environment in a restaurant can be challenging. Heat, humidity and grease particulates can wreak havoc with electronic components. And one of the biggest mistakes is to use consumer grade displays and media players rather than hardened commercial equipment intended for 24/7 use in harsh environments.
Mounting locations can also be a concern. Are appropriate wall mounts used, will floor or ceiling mounts be needed? The last thing you need is expensive equipment crashing down onto the floor or worse, causing a patron injury.
Additionally, there are power considerations. You need to make sure the displays are on a separate circuit from kitchen equipment or you can run the risk of damage from power fluctuations or noisy circuits. Separate dedicated circuits, power conditioners and UPS systems are a wise investment to consider.
You will also need to consider if wireless or hard-wired Ethernet is the right choice for your installation, and make sure your digital player has the ability to automatically recover from connectivity and power interruptions. The display should also have the ability to be quickly re-tasked in the event of a failure of an adjacent display.
A properly designed and fully managed system should enhance your restaurant, drive additional sales, promote your brand and increase customer loyalty without you having to worry about managing the displays and content.