As you embark on your menu board ordering journey there are certain measures you should take into consideration. Remember, you are not ordering napkin holders or air fresheners for your restaurant, you are ordering the engine that could drive sales positively or adversely. It still amazes me that a lot of restaurant owners will not give menu boards a second thought when it comes to their overall operation. Objective #1 should be getting people to your restaurant, followed closely by Objective #2 which is selling what you want to sell to your customers. Menu boards play an intricate role in this. Instead, many will go the sign company route or put up a Coke/Pepsi/Boar’s Head freebie, but what is that going to do for you? Now for those who have the foresight and who are in the market for a new menu board system, the following checklist should help the process go smoother and end up yielding what you want.
Get an idea of what you like
First I should note that this isn’t critical. We have worked with many companies who come to us to develop an idea of what would work for their locations. However, this does delay the turnaround because it often results in a game of whack-a-mole. Anyhow, as soon as you think you may be looking at opening a restaurant or doing a little remodelling of a current location, start taking notice of how others are getting it done. When you’re in the mall, walk through the food court. When you’re walking around the downtown of a big city, poke your head in to some restaurants to see what they’ve got going on. You can even Google “menu boards” and see what comes up on images. This will help get your mind going about what you think would work in your space. If online, save the link to the image and if out in public, try to sneak a picture of it. This will help your designer with a starting point towards creating something specific for you.
Solidify your menu as best you can
They say close is only good in horseshoes and hand grenades; well you can add menu boards to that list as well. As soon as you have your menu at least 75-85% complete, it makes sense to move forward with a menu board company. Prior to that, the amount of iterations to the layout will only frustrate both parties involved. Further, the closer it is to its final version, the easier it is to determine the amount of space and panels that may be required. I tell people all the time, “your menu doesn’t have to be done; it just has to be close.” Designers can easily add and omit items here and there through the design process, just don’t ask them to do it a hundred times.
Consider all environmental factors
Arming yourself with the details of your location will make the process run more smoothly. Things to consider:
- How is the lighting? Do I need illuminated menu boards or not? Will a track light work?
- How much room do I have for the menu boards (height and width)?
- If illuminating or going the digital menu board route, do I have the power I need in the menu board area?
- How far back will people be standing from the menu boards?
If you don’t have these answers in mind, you’ll be given a little homework assignment by the company you are speaking with – or at least you should be asked for this information. Also very helpful is to take pictures of the area in question that you could pass along for conceptualizing.
Set a budget aside
A dollar to me differs on what a dollar means to you. The car I own is average, better than some, worse than others. The point is that we all come from different walks of life. Our businesses are in different demographics and costs vary from market to market – and we all value different things. Because of this, I am not one to tell people what they can afford and what they want to spend their money on; only they know that. Some have the capital to put up a 5 screen digital menu board system in their restaurant and some need to go the corrugated route. Either way, options exist for any situation. To get an idea on costs, make some phone calls, talk to other business owners, or join groups on LinkedIn. Just do me on favor; please don’t call expecting to get a 2-3 digital menu board system for $1,500 or less (you’d be surprised).
Do your research
Never have there been so many options available to you thanks to this little thing called the Internet. A blessing in many ways, it can also get in your way. We recently had someone sign on with us for a digital system a year plus after initial contact. In his words, he became overwhelmed with all of the information he had collected. With that said, due diligence is important. By taking note of these 5 signs that you’re dealing with the right menu board company, you’ll set yourself up for a good experience and limit the research dance that can unfold otherwise.
Have checks marked off in all the boxes? Are you ready to have a conversation around what might work best for you? Give us a call today at 888-235-2579 or email me!