Breaking Down Menu Board Lead Time

“Yesterday”- this is what we are frequently told when we ask when our customers for their menu board need-by date.  After a shared chuckle we have to break the news as to what their expectations should be regarding the time that elapses from start to finish. 

LeadtimeUnless you are providing print ready artwork and are looking for something in the form of a poster or graphic, there are a number of elements to account for.  Some tend to take a little longer than others but when added all up you can anticipate a 4-6 week process from the time you start thinking about new menu boards to when they arrive.

So what do you need to account for?  Take a look below.

Research different companies- As is with everything in life there is the good, the bad and the ugly.  Menu board and sign companies are no different.  From the second you begin to consider a system you should start researching viable companies.  Then pick up the phone and talk to them.  Make sure you ask good questions.  ~ 1-2 weeks

Selecting the company, product and quantity required- Now that you have done your due diligence it is time to select the company that will produce your system.  You’ll have probably selected this company in large-part to their product offering.  At this point it is time to rein it in.  What product are you going to use and how much space are you looking to fill?  ~ 3-5 days

Collecting and sending information over- Once you have picked your system, it is time to collect and turn over some information that will help the designer get started.  The time it takes for this to occur is largely dependent on what you have together and completed vs. what you have to seek out and gather.  Menu copy, picture, and logos are examples of this.  ~ 1-5 days

Content interview- This can be done while the aforementioned information is being collected.  This is a sit down with a designer or project manager to discuss objectives (i.e. color schemes, high profit items, staples, etc) for your signage.  This stage is limited to companies that take the time to learn about each and every situation they are dealing with in order to deliver something that will engage customers and maximize margins.  ~ 1 day

Design and approval process- With the applicable information in hand, sorted through and discussed as a part of the content interview, the time has come to begin the design.  This is far and away the biggest X Factor when it comes to the lead time.  It is most common that an initial design will be presented in 2-3 business days from the content interview, with a revision to follow and ultimately an approval.  The responsiveness from both the company and the customer on layouts is a driving factor in dragging out the lead time.  What compounds this area even greater is when revisions are sent from the client in dribs and drabs instead of all at once in a single, concise document.  ~ 1-2 weeks

Production queue- When the signs have been approved they do not go immediately in to production, they go in to the production queue or schedule.  Naturally, this phase lasts longer during busy times than slower.  Either way, as things ship out the back door, orders begin to trickle in to the various areas of production (i.e. printing, manufacturing, fabricating, etc).  ~ 3-5 days

Production time- Quite simply, this is the time from when it enters the physical production phase until it is ready to be packaged.  Digital signage isn’t impacted by this, however traditional menu boards as well as drive-thrus are.  The quantity of each for a given order will dictate the length of time; however we’re talking generalities here.  ~1-2 weeks

Packaging- Just as orders are queued up to enter production, they often are queued up on the back end of production for packaging.  It is not as though they roll of a factory line all boxed or crated.  They are handled in the order in which they are received.  ~1-3 days

Shipping & transit- This depends on where they items are shipping from and two.  You also have to keep in mind that items may sit for an additional day if they are packaged and ready to go but have missed the (for example) UPS pickup.  ~ 2-5 days

I get the “it’s just a menu board” notion but one must also keep in mind that the sign or menu board company that they are dealing with all have their best practices in place to streamline manufacturing and minimize mistakes.  I bring this up because whether you are ordering one menu board or 5 they all have to go through the same funnel. A single menu board doesn’t leap-frog larger projects that were ordered simply because the quantity is less.  So when you’re ready to order your next menu board, keep these factors in mind.

There you have it, “what to expect when you’re expecting… menu boards.”  Let us know your thoughts. | 888-235-2579