Menu Board Story Time

A wise man once told me, “Awareness is curative.”  Specifically in business, there has been no other saying that has resonated with me more.  On paper it is a simple concept.  It is a glorified way of saying “learn from your mistakes.” However put in another light, awareness is also something you can arm yourself with.  You gather enough information so that you can make an intelligent decision while knowing what the potential snags could be.  You may be wondering what I am getting at.  Well, as a business we have grown to notice that in both scenarios the main problem is the fact that people cannot get out of the way of themselves.  They will not admit that they made a mistake and instead play the blame game, or they hear what they want to hear and discredit the information they were given.  With this in mind, I have identified three instances that have occurred in the last year.  I have selected one from each area that we do the most business.

So grab your morning Joe, make yourself comfortable and get ready, because today is story time.

Story #1 – Digital Menu Boards

The most overwhelming position we find ourselves in as we are putting the bow on another digital menu board transaction is whether or not the end-user is going to use commercial grade LCDs or consumer grade LCDs.  We have digested the benefits of commercial grade LCDs ad nauseum (5 Reasons to Use Commercial Grade LCD Screens for Digital Menu Boards) so I am not going to waste your time giving you my two cents again – I am pretty sure you know my position by now.   There was one situation that sticks out in mind more than the others however.  This gentleman sent us spec after spec of consumer LCDs, residential LCDs, you name it but the answer was always the same; “they should work, but we cannot be 100% sure because it is not a commercial grade LCD.”  What he ended up going with was a regular LCD that he bought for a discount online.  The end result was nothing short of a nightmare.  Because this type of LCD is meant for broadcast television and not for displaying a signal from a PC, every time the unit was shut off, the signal was lost and the entire aspect ratio went back to the out-of-the-box settings.  Even worse, the return policy was null because he bought a refurbished unit.  The solution was to keep the LCDs on 24/7, which they are not meant to do.

Lesson Learned: If I have said it once, I have said it a million times - the few dollars you save when you go with consumer grade LCDs simply does not offset the frustration you could find yourself experiencing.


Menu BoardsStory #2 – Traditional Menu Boards

There is nothing we like more than selling more than just menu boards.  Not because we are greedy and it means more money in our bank account, but because it means we are working with people who actually get it (Increase Sales with Strategically Placed Signage).  In this story everything went well.  We breezed through the product selection, cranked out the design, and got everything produced without a hitch.  That was until it came to the install.  Back in the early stages of our conversations it was quickly determined that we were going to be doing the install.  Since we work with a network of installers nationwide this is never an issue.  What we like to do prior to any install is a site visit (see where this is heading?).  This was suggested early in the process.  We explained, as we always do, that there is a fee for the visit that would be absorbed should we move forward on the overall project with one another.  The idea of the site visit was run up the flagpole and it was determined that it wasn’t needed.  “There is nothing out of the ordinary, piece of cake, no need for the visit.”  Our response was something canned to the tune of “Are you sure?  This is not the first time we have heard that and what ends up happening is blah, blah, blah,” you get the point.  Now let’s fast forward to the install.  The walls that were said to be drywall, were concrete; the power supply that was said to exist, didn’t; and the drop ceiling grids that were “the same as all other drop ceilings” were ½” wide, not 1” wide.  What transpired was a position we hate being in which is sympathetic to the customer yet caught in the position where we have to account for at least some of our time.   The tech had to make a second visit (additional charge), new clips for the drop ceiling needed to be ordered (additional charge) and drilling in to concrete is much more labor intensive than drywall (additional charge).

Lesson Learned: Quick, round numbers; spending $150 on a site visit that would have been absorbed would have kept them from paying an additional $750 dollars.  Installing signage is a part of what we and others do and not a core competency of our clients.  It is in your best interest to defer to the professional and heed their advice.

Story #3 – Drive-thru Menu Boards

A win for a lot of the drive-thru folks we work with is the fact that we can bundle the drive-thru menu board with the communications systems.  This was right up [we’ll call him] Harry’s ally.  Harry is what you would envision a “typical” New Yorker to be like.  He was direct, straight to the point, knew what he wanted, yet had an endearing fun side to him.  One thing he knew for sure is that he wanted the speaker and microphone as a part of the drive-thru – no problem.  The speaker and microphone are put, not in the base, but in the middle cabinet of the drive-thru.  The reason being is that when placed in the base there tends to be a lot more car noise and interference that disrupts the clarity between those at the drive-thru and those inside taking the order.  The problem arose as we went through the design process.  Because the speaker/mic has to be a part of the cabinet it eats at the available design space.  As a result, we ran out of room and Harry wasn’t willing or able to eliminate any items and the only way to make them fit was to remove the speaker/mic from the cabinet.  Again, no problem, we can use a speaker post.  Harry didn’t want to spend any more money and was convinced that the speaker/mic would be fine in the base because the drive-thru was going to be slightly up on a knoll.  We politely refused to put the speaker/mic in the base for the aforementioned reasons.  Harry maintained that it would work and said that he would retrofit the speaker/mic in to the base, which he did.  He sent us pictures and it actually looked good, but you can guess what happened.  Yep, car noise disrupted the service.  Guess who called us back 3 months later and asked us to ship and new shroud to cover the base and a shiny new speaker post?  My man Harry!

Lesson Learned: It seems pretty obvious; the customer should have listened.  However sometimes there is no changing the mind of someone with such deep convictions.  To be honest, he almost had me convinced it would work.  In the end, it was simply just another environment that was not receptive to having the speaker and microphone in the base.

To Summarize:

  • Be a diligent consumer, but not a thick-headed one.  Not all companies are looking to milk your wallet and do have your best interests in mind.
  • When issues arise with projects, it is often because someone was looking to save a few dollars upfront.
  • Stay on your toes!  Although it is the shared responsibility of the company you are working with, they cannot account for the minor details if they are not provided.
  • Menu board companies R&D their products for optimal performance so if they do not serve the function you are looking for them to do, you should not force the issue.
  • Sometimes it is best to remain silent and turn on your listening ears!

Want to hear more?  Check out a menu board company that works with you to meet your objectives!  Or give me a call today at 888-235-2579.