Custom Menu Boards Becoming New Standard

Over time, menu board companies have designed and produced systems that they felt the market was looking for.  A lot of times the “next big thing” was simply an iteration on something that previously existed and if something stuck it became a member of the standard product line.  In some of these instances we have actually seen blatant re-engineering of products that were flourishing; Stainless steel panels with magnetic graphics come to mind.  These panels were all the rage between 2005-2008.  However, like many other systems they slid back in to “just another option” territory as time passed.

Custom Menu BoardsSo what now?  What are people looking for today?  Back in the day it was an easier answer.  They wanted durable and flexible signs at a reasonable price.  Nowadays it isn’t so clear.  To get the answer, a good start can be had by taking a look at our percentage of sales between our standard traditional menu board options and custom displays.  Where our standard product line used to own the lion’s share we are now staring at a 50-50 split with Custom Menu Boards.  From a company standpoint of course we would love to run-off nothing but standard products but the potential of something revolutionary being spawned from a custom job continues to lure us back.

The fact is, we only know what has worked and will work functionality-wise in the market.  Trying to figure out what a game-changer could be is a constantly moving target.  Anybody who tells you different is either lying or on the cusp of making themselves very wealthy.  As it stands, there are only so many ways to light a menu board up, or use magnetic graphics, or make it flexible without developing something that would be cost prohibitive for most.  So again, what we’re left with are relatively similar (save materials, quality and cost) products in the marketplace that do very little to differentiate themselves from one-another and custom menu boards.  As mentioned, we’ve noticed the buying of standardized menu boards trending down while custom menu boards are on the rise.  There are 4 main reasons for this.

1- Uniqueness
No one wants to look exactly the same as the guy next door.  Yes you can create some separation by designing different graphics but most would prefer something that sets themselves entirely apart . Add to that the ever-emerging web impact and being able to see inside almost any restaurant there is with the click of a few buttons. With menu boards being the hub of the location, the last thing you would want is to have a system that makes you indistinguishable.

2- By-Product of Interior Design
Our phones ring daily with calls from restaurant interior designers. On many occurrences their menu board vision doesn’t quite jibe with what is being offered by our standard line.  Typically this is a smooth process because they are able to articulate what their end-goals are and we can put something together to help execute it.

3- Available Space
This is pretty straightforward.  A good chunk of folks are finding themselves in situations where they need some custom sizes to fit their available space for signage.  Depending on the substrate this can be easily accommodated.

4- Price Gap is Insignificant
A few of the reasons for having a standard product line are to; 1- minimize the design guesswork, 2- produce in quantity to make jobs more profitable and 3- have something that works for the masses vs. anomalies.  But when these systems don’t meet the needs of half the people you work with and you don’t want to cast revenue aside, you find yourself in custom mode.  Relying on many years of menu board development experience, companies can take a consultative approach to quickly formulate a game-plan.  Refining the details and producing for the first item will take some time but by using proven products it really just becomes adding a layer of cost for development to the bottom line of a standard product

So you tell us; what is the menu board market missing?  What do you think would revolutionize the industry?  We’d love to hear your suggestions.  Leave a comment below or reach out to us at  888-235-2579