Digital Menu Boards for Digital Menu Boards

This is a tale of a company (we’ll call them “Truffys”) looking for the ideal digital menu board solution. Truffys however, is not a start-up, they are not building out, they aren’t renovating and certainly aren’t in the business planning stages. They are a well-established staple in their community and have been so for over 25 years. Their renovation took place three years ago.  With electricians and contractors crawling around their place for a month plus, you’d think it would have been a good idea to go digital back then. It turns out, they thought it was a good idea too, which is why they did install digital menu boards. You see, Truffys is now looking for the ideal digital menu board solution because they picked the wrong one 3 years ago and it has become the bane of their existence.

You can’t blame Truffys, there are a lot of people who have made similar mistakes and have fallen in to the many pitfalls of digital menu boards.  I mean, who wouldn’t be enamored by the thought of a “low upfront cost,” and/or “hundreds of templates to choose from,” or “access from anywhere in the world.”  It all sounds good - REALLY good - and the folks selling these solutions make it look good, REALLY good, too!

As for Truffys, they went with a company that offered all the ease of use for a very low yearly fee. “No expensive hardware” – because a digital system runs without a playback device and distribution (media players, LCDs, cables, etc.) – and, just to be clear, that was saturated in sarcasm.  What about the templates?  Truffys got hundreds of them.  [Side note - it is amazing how many templates you can get out of one design.]  Change the color and, “we have another template.” This was the least of Truffys problems. Playback on the screens was intermittent and spotty at best.  The company’s support “exhausted all of their options” and although it was nice to have the software set up on their computer at their location, with every start and restart of the computer, the screens were interrupted.  Sounds like fun!

“Price is what you pay, value is what you get” resonate here?

This isn’t to say that there aren’t decently priced solutions that are available, but you really need to know what you are getting. Moreover, we have found that quite often what people think they need differs from what you actually need. For example, if I had a nickel for every time I heard “well I am not going to be making that many changes.” OK, so go the route of having something designed for you and plastered on to some screens.  When you need to make that “simple” change you either are left to figure it out on your own or you have to pay someone to do it and it’s rarely completed on the same day. This is just one example; the list can go on for every facet of digital signage. Take Truffys, they could make changes quickly and the interface was easy to use, but it was other areas that drove them nuts.

When it comes to digital menu boards there are a lot of layers that have to be considered.  Where a system excels in one area, it may significantly lack in another. Doing your homework and understanding where some systems are lacking will help you avoid Truffys’ situation. But consider this, when we looked at the total number of systems we sold last year and excluded the repeat orders, we found that almost 1/3 of those sales were made up of people switching systems. We had a feeling that there was a good handful, but not that many.   So don’t feel bad if you find yourself in a similar situation. A lot of people want to dip their toe in the water before jumping in, and there are cheap solutions that allow you to do that.  At least they allow you to do something…

To Summarize:

  • It is not just the start-ups and renovations that are going the digital menu board route
  • A lot of companies advertise low cost digital menu board solutions because their investment is in the software (only) that they are trying to move
  • 1/3 of Origin Displays’ 2011 digital menu board sales were made up of people switching systems
  • People can easily get caught up in the smoke and mirror industry that is “digital signage” – do your homework and avoid these systems!

Check out a digital menu board solution that addresses EVERYTHING up front or give me a call today at 888-235-2579 for more information!