A “Costly” Menu Board Mistake

A lot of the conversations start the same; “hi, I am looking for an idea on cost for digital menu boards. “Well of course the chat continues on to determine their particulars, budget and most importantly their objectives. The twist in a lot of these instances is when the price is presented for a system that checks off all of what they are looking for.

USBDay parting?  ”Ah maybe we can get away with the same menu all day.”  Dynamic content? “I really just need to show my menu and prices. “Specials and promotions?  ”We’ll just use a wet erase board for that.”  Content management? “We really don’t change our menu items or pricing all that often.”  My main takeaway when calls unravel in this fashion is that they have been spooked by cost. My two sub-takeaways are 1- they are kidding themselves about not needing/wanting the characteristics of a true solution and/or 2- they saw digital menu boards somewhere and simply thought they look cool. Unfortunately, some remain hell bent on getting “digital menu boards” up in their restaurant rather than waiting for the ideal time (budget in place) to proceed with a system that will work.  What results often does more harm than good from a financial perspective and causes more frustration.

Nowadays almost all monitors have USB capabilities and there are those that see this is a simple way to get images on to a screen.  This the case with commercial products as well as residential units.  But remember, we’re dealing with cost-conscious folks in this scenario meaning they have likely opted for the cheaper option (residential).  As for the design, it seems like every Tom, Dick or Harry is a graphic designer so finding someone to design some thing to splash on a screen is rarely difficult.  OK so lets do the math for this type of fictitious three 42″ screen solution.

Run-of-the-mill 42″ (residential grade) TV- $400 x 3
Mounts (residential grade) – $35 x 3
Design work from a non-industry specific designer- $225

“Total” – $1530

The reason the total is in quotations is because the attached number doesn’t fully quantify the total cost.  You’ll likely have to get power to the appropriate areas and will ultimately have to get everything installed.  The cost should not only be considering in dollar and cents form.  A screen goes black, who do you call?  Your menu needs to be changed, what does that process look like (unless you are one of the few restaurant owner/operators that moonlights as a designer)?  The images are displaying improperly on the screen, who is going to troubleshoot?

Lets go ahead and make it an even $2K after all is said and done.  What you have is an unsupported, amateurishly designed, inflexible system that spans approximately ten feet all because you “needed” digital menu boards.  By comparison, you could get a magnetic menu board system, designed and produced by industry professionals to cover comparable space for half the cost.  People should not get lost in the illusion that putting screens on a wall will automatically yield these amazing results.  The point is, by spending less you’ll not only save money, but also have a greater influence on your customers and fewer headaches.  Conversely, you could spend a handful of months socking away some money to get the digital menu board solution that will deliver and execute your goals!

Am I off the mark?  Have you used a sneaker-net type solution with success?  It would be interesting to learn more about your story.  info@origindisplays.com | 888.235.2579