5 Menu Board Company Misconceptions

Everyday we get a lot of calls from all walks of life.  From college kids working on a project to someone working a business plan to single restaurant owners to large companies.  The line of questioning comes in from all angles and the responses are based on those we are talking to. It is without fail, however, that a lot of people call in and have some preconceived notions about menu board companies that aren’t accurate.  Don’t get me wrong, there are just as many, if not more, thoughts that are but it may help you along if we refute some of those that are largely incorrect.

True-FalseThe following misconceptions have been compiled through several conversations over the course of many years.  Obviously, the industry isn’t limited to these five however these seem to be the ones that arise most frequently.

1- The costs for menu boards are high- The idea of the cost being “high” is all relative.  Can you get the same thing made at a run-of-the-mill sign company for less?  Well when it comes to regular menu boards, maybe but not for digital or drive-thrus.  Looking specifically at traditional menu boards, costs that have to be accounted for are the R&D, engineering, and graphic design that go and goes into each system.  Standard product lines do not fall out of the sky.  In addition, expertise in the area of graphics can not be understated.  So yes, if you live in Chicago you can Google “graphic designer Chicago” find someone inexpensive to put something together for you, take it to a sign shop and have them print it for less.  What kind of impact do you think that will have in the way of influencing purchasing decisions?  You guessed it, not much.

2- What you can get done by a menu board company, you can get done by a sign company- Similar to #1, much of the focus of this misunderstanding should be on drive-thru menu boards.  Let me me be blunt here, half the drive-thru menu boards that we provide are actually replacements of signs that they have previously gotten via a sign company.  The reasons are various; it was a temporary non-illuminated sign, it leaks, there is no way to change the graphics, half the lights don’t work, its old… we have heard it all.  You may ask yourself, “does McDonald’s use a menu board company for their signs?”  Well no, they don’t.  But maybe, just maybe they had the clout to have something specially engineered, tested, built, prototyped and piloted before committing to thousands.  Ask yourself, is it worth the reasons I have mentioned (why we’ve replaced) to go with an unproven product?

3- There are digital menu board solutions available for less than $1000- The term “digital menu board solution” is a different blog for a different day (oh wait, we’ve written one).  Even if we forget for a moment that someone just wants a couple of screens with USB playback (NOT A SOLUTION) and that they are OK with using residential or consumer grade monitors (not a good idea), and that they have the ability to design something on their own (probably not an expert), and have a friend do the install for nothing (thanks Jim) you are still in the $800-850 range for a couple of monitors, mounts and cables.  You and Jim are human and time is money so how much value do you put on your time?  I think it is fair to say that overall we’ve surpassed the $1000 threshold and we are talking about the most primitive of the primitive when it comes to digital signage to the point where I hesitate to even acknowledge it as such.  Shall I continue?

4- Menu board companies sell used equipment- We’ve discussed the reasons in the past as to why it is wise to forgo used equipment in favor of new even if that means pumping the breaks for a bit until it makes business sense.  There are rare and I mean RARE instances that signs will be returned (i.e. a business goes sideways and doesn’t require) and you may be able to save a couple of bucks there.  However, 99% of the time menu board companies do not house anything used.  It goes from being ordered and out the door to never being seen again.

5- “A sign is a sign”- This pretty much sums up numbers 1-3.  Look if we provided you a BASIC sign and you took it to some one else and said, can you make this, chances are when placed side-by-side they would be awfully similar.  So in that essence yes, a sign is a sign.  Though more often than not there are some trade secrets mixed in to make duplication difficult.  In addition, menu board companies have the unique ability to print, fabricate and paint in variety of ways.  On the other hand, a lot of print shops cannot provide the appropriate substrates and certain sign companies fall short on the side of  fabrication and large format printing.

There you have it; the five misconceptions that get sparked in many a convo.  Do you have any thoughts of your own that you wonder whether they’re on point?  Let us know.  www.originmenuboards.com | 888-235-2579