How to Know It’s Time for New Menu Boards

There comes a time when you have to replace almost everything in life; your couch, your job, your bed, your girlfriend (just kidding – my wife will kill me when she sees that), and on and on and on.  There are a variety of reasons as to why these changes have to be made – some you can control, and some you cannot.  Now next time you find yourself replacing something, ask yourself, did I do what I could to get the most life out of it?  Chances are you didn’t; a replacement was on sale, or it cost less, or it was a gift.  The point I am trying to make is that at the end of the day you have the ability to take preventative measures to maximize the lifetime of your products.  Do your due diligence, talk to people, look it up online, check out consumer reports, do whatever you can.  Look, I understand that everyone leads busy lives and that time is money – exactly, time is money.  So do you spend more time to spend the appropriate money for a quality product, or do you spend less time and spend more money for a lesser product?  The choice is yours.

As it relates to menu boards, we have discussed at length about how you can take control of the menu board ordering process.  However, what I want to focus on today are the indicators that it may be time for a new menu board system.  Some of these may be obvious, however others may not.  Next time you are at your own restaurant or visiting another, consider the points below and ask yourself, “is it time for this place to get new menu boards?”

It is just plain ugly

On paper, this would seem like one of the obvious ones I was referring to.  However, in all walks of life “love is blind.”  What may be viewed as a serviceable piece of marketing to you may be an eye-sore and overall detriment to your business.  I suggest that you be open-minded and ask people’s opinions.  Faded prints, missing strips, tape being used, clashing colors and designs are pretty clear signs that something should be done.

You find yourself making regular changes and reprints

Here at Origin Displays, we are big proponents of using full graphics versus strips and digits, but when it comes to custom menu boards or large format type of replacements, it may be time to consider another solution.  This is more so due to the fact that the older menu boards make it very cumbersome to put the graphics in and out; side or top loading, nuts, bolts and screw drivers, who needs that nonsense?  In this day and age, digital menu boards, magnetic menu boards and LED menu boards make access and swap-outs of menu items and pricing a breeze.  Save yourself some time and frustration – upgrade.

The lighting is inconsistent

Insert many run-of-the-mill quick serve restaurants here.  It pains me to see it.  In fact, this can fall under the “It is just plain ugly” category as well.  There are bright areas of the menu board, and there are dim areas.  This can make it very difficult to read and is undoubtedly unpleasant to look at.  With LED lighting becoming more and more prevalent, the pricing continues to drop.  The lighting is balanced and typically lasts for an upwards of 100,000 hours – oh and it draws a fraction of the electricity of traditional backlit (fluorescent) menu boards.  Translation = junk those old backlit menu boards!

The menu boards aren’t impacting sales

This is quite often seen when the menu board is a simple layout with very little in the way of images.  You look at your sales week over week and realize that for the most part it remains unchanged.  The notion that a menu board is simply an area to list items is an antiquated one.  Using combos or other menu board real-estate for limited time offers, promotions, and high quality pictures is how you impact sales.  Further, educate people!  Tell them how it is made, how fresh it is, how healthy it is, why it was rated #1, how it will “cool them down in the summer heat,” or “warm them up during the winter’s chill.”  Bottom-line – if your menu boards do not invoke a visceral response from your customers, they are exactly what you intended them to be, items and pricing on a wall… Boring!!!

You are using a “freebie”

I get it; it costs a lot of money to start a restaurant.  The budget is limited and when it comes to menu boards, quite often there are concessions made in this area because after all, “I just need a sign that shows my items and prices.”  Coke, Pepsi, Boars Head, these are examples of the “freebie” menu boards that I see all the time.  Listen carefully, THEY DO NOTHING TO CREATE ADDITIONAL SALES FOR YOU!  Keep in mind, cheap menu boards do exist.  So you can’t afford a digital menu board, or even a magnetic menu board, that is fine.  There are inexpensive substrates that can be designed and hung that will make a far greater impact than any free system you could ever get your hands on.

It doesn’t work with how people order

Not all quick-service restaurants have their customers order the same way.  People tend to look at chains and try to replicate what they are doing, which we highly encourage.  What they fail to realize is that “everybody” knows the chains, they know how to order, and they generally know what they want to order.  If you are a smaller operation, you have to assume that the majority of new customers do not know how to order at your location.  If the menu board is set up with spewed content and your location is configured in a way that isn’t clear, you can inadvertently create angst with your customers.  Put short, make it make sense!

To Summarize:

  • Menu boards should do more for your business than simply list items and pricing.
  • Going with a free hand-out as a menu board system actually costs you money (from lost sales) in the end.
  • Using old, dim, torn, rickety menu boards will give a poor impression to your customers, no matter how good the food is.
  • It isn’t the full graphics that are the problem, it is the system and how difficult the old menu boards make it to make quick and easy swap-outs.

Are you now thinking that it might be time to get a new menu board system?  Give us a call today and we’ll do our best to help you out!  888-235-2579