Digital Signage for Non-QSR Restaurants

Over the course of the last handful of years the digital signage industry has grown immensely.  It still remains a mixed bag of true solutions and pretenders.  The ability to sift between the two becomes more difficult by the day.  People will often skip to the bottom line and quickly cast a side functionality for a lesser cost and lip-service from a salesperson- “of course you can change your content easily.”  With that said, I’m not here to talk about the companies that provide digital signage, nor where these systems are popping up.  What I’m going to discuss is a relatively untapped segment where we’ve seen the most impressive impact.  After reading this blog my my assumption is that your thoughts will be the same as mine, it’s a no-brainer.  Fast Casual Digital

Although they haven’t taken off in the way that many an “expert” had predicted, digital menu boards have entered more and more quick service restaurants (QSR) in the last year than ever before.  They take on many forms other than your typical McDonald’s or Burger King.  These also include cafeteria’s, food courts, kiosks, coffee shops, etc.   Considering all of that, there is still a sizable portion of the restaurant industry that has been slow to adapt to digital signage but where you have the most captive of audiences.  If you haven’t guessed it already, the two areas I am speaking about are Fast Casual and Fine Dining Restaurants

Imagine with me for a second a Friday or Saturday night at your neighborhood Chili’s, Applebees, TGI’s, etc.  You give your name and party size and are told that the wait is going to be 30-45 minutes.  Now instead of being handed a device that lights up when your table is ready, you are instructed to keep an eye on the monitor that is showing the estimated wait times and “now seating” when your time is up.  I liken this to the DMV where you are given a letter and number.  Each correlates to what you are there for and the order in which you’ll be served.  The difference in a restaurant scenario would be that the letter would represent the party size and the number would represent where you are on the depth chart.

Conventionally, the monitor would be placed in the lobby/foyer as well as the bar area.  This way, if people venture for an appetizer or a cocktail, they have another point of reference.  We have even seen ultra-bright screens facing outdoors for those who headed out for some fresh air or cigarette.  The nice thing about this arrangement is that all screens share the same content.  It is simply a single channel split as many times as you’d like.

Back to you at the restaurant; you have now “checked in” and are waiting for your table.  You are now at the mercy of the monitor to see “how much longer?”  Keep in mind that the wait times should only take up a small portion of the screen. The remainder should be blasting promotions and lunch/dinner specials.  For instance, “While you wait, 2 for 1 draft beers at the bar.”  The potential for this space is plentiful.  Loyalty programs, social media presence (“Like us on facebook for…”), catering, gift cards, etc, are all possible.  The best part is that people are “forced” to watch the screen for when they’ll be seated.  Increased sales are inevitable.

Fine Dining folks may read this and think that it might be a little gimmicky for them, I get that.  It is more personal to have someone notify you when your table is ready.  If that is the case, maybe you forgo the waiting times on the screen.  We have done several locations where a digital screen has been surrounded by a beautiful wooden frame.  These screens have been used to show wine selections, and dinner specials.

If it hasn’t been driven home enough, it should be clear that these scenarios are towards the top of customer engagement when it comes to digital signage.  The aforementioned DMV is the only other place that comes to mind where you are required to be glued to the screens; and they don’t use it for anything else.

Lastly, you don’t have to be a chain to take advantage.  If you have a restaurant that does some semblance of volume this could easily enhance your customers experience and more importantly, increase your bottom line.

So what do you think?  Is it a no-brainer?  I think so; agree or disagree?  Thoughts or comments?  Leave them below or email us at or call us at 888-235-2579