Breaking Down the 12 Benefits of Digital Menu Boards

On May 13th, 2012 Digital Signage Today published the “12 Benefits of Digital Menu Boards.”  What they did was survey quick-service and fast casual restaurants that have already installed digital menu boards and had them define these benefits based on their experiences. They then had these operators weight the impact of each, which yielded the percentages below.

Although the benefits may seem straightforward to some, digging a little deeper may open some eyes to areas they would have otherwise never considered.

Benefit #1 – Centralized control of menu board content (67.9%)

This is specifically important for multi-unit concepts. People tend to undervalue the importance of logistics when it comes to menu boards. I have seen it a million times. “Location X needs A sized graphics, Location Y is a bit bigger so we need B sized graphics and Location Z got the new menu boards so it needs the C graphics…” You get the point!  Whether you have 40” screens, 47” screens or other, the software doesn’t discriminate (if you picked the right solution). You’ll be able to make the same changes to all of your locations at once.

Benefit #2 – Better pricing flexibility (49.1%) 

Quarterly, semiannually, yearly - it doesn’t matter – price changes are bound to happen. When dealing with vendors who’s pricing can be volatile, having this capability is seen as one of digital menu boards’ greatest benefits. The days of standing on a chair with a piece of paper and playing with digits or paying and waiting to get reprints done, is now over.

To shed some other light, imagine having franchisees. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for franchisees to work the prices on the low side (in an attempt to sell more) or on the high side (to skim some of the profits). Digital signage now allows you to control the pricing that is up on their screens.

Benefit #3 – Lower costs to make menu changes (49.1%)

There are really only one of four ways to handle menu item changes when it comes to traditional menu boards. You are either paying $15 a pop for a new menu strip, printing an entire new graphic/poster, spelling the item out with individual peg letters or hand writing it. Once the investment is made for digital signage, this is an area you should never have to worry about again!

Benefit #4 – Increased customer satisfaction (47.2%)

Increased customer satisfaction?  But I am just looking for my menu item, ordering and then I am done. I liken this to my old doctor’s office versus my new. Last year I went to my doctor for a physical and was hooked up to an EKG machine that could have been used on Abraham Lincoln.  I wasn’t dissatisfied; I knew they wouldn’t be using something that didn’t work. Now fast forward to this year’s physical at a brand new doctor’s office. This time when it came to the EKG, I was hooked up to a state of the art machine that required a lot less elbow grease.  The result was the same (not sure about actual cholesterol) but I was more satisfied with my experience.

Put simply, if you walk in to a restaurant using a free Coke or Boar’s Head menu board as opposed to a digital menu board, your impressions are likely to vary.

Benefit #5 – Increased sales of promotional items (37.7%)

The increased sales of promotional items correlate directly with the ability to switch them quickly and easily.  You can offer 2 for 1 hotdogs all day long for a week straight, but eventually it would lose its appeal and/or voice.   I would venture to say that if you put a promotion on your screen and never changed it, this benefit wouldn’t be ranked as high.  A digital menu boards’ ability to allow for frequent changes makes it much more valuable.

Benefit #6 – Improved operational efficiency (37.7%)

This is the broad stroke that covers your overall menu board management.  It covers price and menu changes, promotional changes, inventory control, announcements, etc.  Being able to manage this all with easy-to-use software is more effective than going to a number of different resources to accomplish each.


Digital Menu Boards, Menu BoardsBenefit #7 – Better compliance with labeling laws (22.6%)

Now this doesn’t impact everybody because, if it did, this would likely be #1 on the list.  Restaurants of 20+ locations are required to reveal calorie amounts.   So in addition to price and item changes, calorie changes would have to join them, thus adding to the annoyance of menu board management (if using static menu boards).

Benefit #8 – Higher check averages (20.8%)

Content is king - and the content you post is also what sells on your menu.  Well-developed layouts have the ability to increase your sales in a way that traditional menu boards couldn’t even fathom.  Flash elements, food videos, high definition pictures; these draw attention to ancillary items (i.e. appetizers, soda, desserts) that customers wouldn’t have thought of when they first stepped in line.

Benefit #9 – Increased sales of high margin items (18.9%)

Zeroing in on your high margin items is “Running a Restaurant 101.”  Now that you have identified them, how do you express them on your menu board?  Again, you are limited in the world of static menu boards.  Other than placing the item/image in the prime real-estate of the menu system, there is not much more that you can do.  With digital menu boards, you are able to schedule specific times to highlight such items using the entire screen – powerful stuff!

Benefit #10 – Improved order accuracy (17.0%)

The “science” of laying out a menu relates to static and digital menu boards.  Where the difference lies is in the ability to limit what is being shown on screen.  Consider walking up to a traditional menu board system that has breakfast, lunch and dinner items – the kicker, only the dinner items are available for order.  In this scenario, it is not uncommon for people to order from the breakfast or lunch menu.  Digital signs typically have day-part generators that separate each mealtime from one another, eliminating this ordering mistake, and many others like it.

Benefit #11 – Increased foot traffic (15.1%)

Many of those with digital signage will have their screens on 24/7.  The advantage of commercial grade screens allows for this.  As people walk by and catch movement in their periphery they are immediately draw to where it is coming from, hence the increase in foot traffic.

Benefit #12 – Higher margin per transaction (9.4%)

Selling more of what you have! It is a concept that has been in place for a while. Combo graphics are the most classic way of accomplishing this.  You know, “I’ll take Combo #3, hold the pickles.”  This benefit is very similar to “higher check averages.”  Being able to schedule your screens to show items that would sell greater based on the season, weather or social craze is something that traditional menu boards cannot keep up with.

More from the Digital Signage Today article:

Average time to recoup digital menu board investment:

  • 0-6 months – 11.5%
  • 7-12 months – 30.8%
  • 13-18 months – 26.9%
  • 19-24 months – 19.2%
  • 24+ months – 11.5%

Sales lift:

  • <1% sales lift – 39.3%
  • 1-3% sales lift – 25%
  • 3-5% sales lift – 14.3%
  • 5%+ sales lift – 21.4%

To Summarize:

  • The 12 benefits of digital signage may be obvious to some, but to many, there are a handful of the 12 that weren’t considered before
  • Digital signage has a lot of benefits!
  • There is tangible evidence that shows the ROI when you decide to commit to the right digital signage solution
  • Although the sales lift fluctuates from location to location, a lot of the impact lays in the hands of those managing their digital menu board systems – there is no excuse to not update your look, test new items, or swap promotions

Want to hear more?  Check out a digital menu board solution that has all the benefits listed above… and more!  Or give us a call today at 888-235-2579.