Menu Boards: Functionality Versus Budget

For a moment, imagine drawing a graph with “Functionality” on the Y axis and “Budget” on the X axis.  From the bottom heading north on the Y would be a list of menu board capabilities and functions that continues to grow.  Clumped within would be a series of menu board systems that could accommodate the capabilities.  Along the X would be dollar amounts starting at say $250 (per panel) that increases as you venture right.  The “Functionality-Budget”  line would be drawn on a 45 degree angle from the corner of the Y and X axis point.

Functionality Versus BudgetThe tricky part for you, the consumer, is deciphering between what you see as necessary in a menu board system and what you want.  These would represent two different plots on the Y part of the graph.  Either way, once you have done that, draw a line from your place on the Y axis to the “Functionality-Budget”  line.  From that point, draw a line straight down to the X axis to reveal the budget required to achieve what you need and what you want.

What compounds this scenario is that there are many instances of misconceptions between what prospective buyers deem necessary and the price tag attached.  Not getting everything you want is the story of most people’s everyday life, however not getting what you need is totally different.  Ultimately, when it comes to menu boards you could always get away with a cheap and temporary solution.  However going through this exercise will aid you in periodically setting aside money to either get what you need or surpass to what you want.  Easier said that done; this matrix does not exist.  Although when you speak with someone at a menu board company there is a shared responsibility to determine this point.  In doing so we often see a disconnect between what people are looking for functionality-wise and what their willing to spend.  This is where an in depth conversation is needed to help recalibrate what truly is necessary to see if there is a way to meet their needs.  Quite frankly, this is a 50-50 proposition.

With all of this being said, perhaps if I give you some titbits on a few different products it will help lessen the gap between what you have in your mind and the cost associated with it.

Digital Menu Boards:
- Always remember that there is the fixed cost of the screens themselves.  With distributor margins being minuscule out-of-the-gate there is really no area for negotiation.  Should they choose, Origin allows their clients to source their own screens but the saving are minimal if at all
- No more clear example of “you get what you pay for.”  Most screens nowadays have USB playback, therefore creating a still JPEG and splashing it on your screen is quite simple and inexpensive.  Keep in mind that the end result is an expensive static menu board system that offers next to no functionality.  Digital Menu Boards are a the prime candidate for the fictitious “Functionality-Budget” graph so that consumers can get a true sense of what it takes to acquire a “solution” vs. a “sign.”

Drive-thru Menu Boards:
- The cost for your industry standard of your most common sized drive-thru menu board is in the thousands
- There is years of R&D put in to the engineering of drive-thru menu boards.  From a visibility, durability and graphic flexibility perspective, it is naive to think that a local sign shop could whip something up on a whim that will meet your needs, work well and stand the test of time

Indoor Menu Boards:
- The cost of a 3-4 replacement menu strips would match the cost of a full graphic
- Naturally, illuminated menu boards cost more than non-illuminated menu boards
- Providing print ready design files can off-set some of the cost

Display Fixtures:
- There are often two components’; 1- the fixture itself and 2- whatever is going in the fixture (i.e. poster).  Add to that, who is designing the poster?
- Each one of the above can be handled independently of each other

Banners, Graphics, Posters, etc.:
- The X-factor here is design.  The print themselves are what they are but design time has to accounted for.

Hopefully you’ve been able to make sense of what I have tried to describe.  It kind of took a turn in a different direction based on what I set out to talk about.  Maybe I’ll save that for next week.  Please reach out to us if you have any questions. – 888.235.2579