Thursday, October 20, 2016

Implementing Digital Menu Boards: Should Cost be a Factor for QSRs?

Last week, we covered some of the basics of digital menu boards in quick service restaurants (QSRs), in particular how they serve to drive sales via content (specials, store events and company news) and a better overall customer experience (easier, clearer ordering and the potential for more effective engagement). This week, we’ll talk about one of biggest barriers to adoption, and that’s cost.

Anyone involved in the QSR industry is aware that investments in equipment upgrades or other costly updates have to made extremely wisely. Unfortunately, as the market continues to expand far beyond ubiquitous burger chains and into more upscale, fast-casual experiences, competition will only continue to increase, resulting in shrinking margins and additional “belt tightening” measures. Therefore, putting large sums of money into digital menu boards may not at first seem like the best place to make a change. However, that thinking is often incorrect. In fact:

  • Costs have dropped precipitously over the last few years, and continue to drop. As demand for commercial-grade screens has grown, costs to purchase them have moved in an equal and opposite direction.
  • Previously prohibitively-expensive content templates have dropped in concert with the cost of digital displays. The cost of generating this type of content has therefore fallen as well, as it requires less technical knowledge and skill to develop, write and edit this type of content than it has in the past.
  • Installation costs have fallen dramatically. Once, these expenses could easily add up to $8000+ or more for a single location and take multiple days, requiring store closures that cost locations in both dollars and levels of customer satisfaction. Now, installation of digital displays is generally less than $1000 and can be completed in a single day. 
  • Many QSRs have seen rapid increases in ROIs of 4-5% from the implementation of digital menu boards, quickly negating the costs of initial adoption. In fact, using an average annual per-unit sales number of 1M, it could take fewer than six months to recapture the entire per-unit investment, leading to a net profit over the course of one year of close to $29K, and an almost 3% increase in total sales, year over year -- exactly what stockholders and investors want to see.

When taking into consideration the above, it stands to reason that it is often much more cost effective for operators to choose digital screens over traditional displays, especially when taking the long-term effects into consideration.

While the decision to implement digital menu boards is not a small investment, careful planning and a complete understanding of your QSR’s objectives will go a long way toward making the investment a smart one. Come back next week when we’ll talk more about digital menu boards in QSR environments. And if you’ve already decided that digital menu boards are right for your business, simply request a quote online or call (800) 628-3603 today and RedyRef will be there every step of the way to ensure your company’s unique signage needs and goals are met.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Digital Menu Boards -- What are You Waiting for?

Last week, we began a discussion about digital menu boards, covering some of the basics, including why restaurants are choosing to implement them. This week, we’ll take a look at the opportunity costs of waiting to deploy a digital program, and find out why investing in quality content is still one of the smartest moves you can make if you choose to deploy a digital menu board program.

Opportunity costs are a major factor to consider when weighing the pros and cons of an upgrade to digital from static boards. In other words, how many opportunities may potentially be missed in several different areas.  This includes during the wait for new static menu boards to be updated and created regularly, but it also alludes to the missed chances to generate revenue via digital boards that stems from their incredible flexibility and the multiple available integrations, from tracking inventory to changing specials on the fly when an item or ingredient surplus occurs. Finally, digital menu boards offer many more ways than static boards to engage or connect with customers while they wait, ultimately enhancing their experience by reducing the perception of wait times during peak hours and generating more opportunities to up- or cross-sell.

So what’s the key to making a digital program work?  Well, we’ve all heard the old adage that “content is king.”  And in the digital world, there are very few people who would be likely to disagree. Content is one of the biggest sales drivers around, across many different markets.  The other highly influencing factor is user (or customer) experience.  So it should be of no surprise that digital menu boards are experiencing such a surge in popularity in the quick service restaurant industry. They combine two of the most power predictors of increased sales -- the potential to create compelling content, while offering a positive, memorable user experience.  So, provided that the product being sold is solid, whether it’s pumpkin latte or the latest super-duper-extra bacon cheese burger, it stands to reason that digital menu boards could be a logical next step for increasing revenue in a quick service restaurant environment.  

Come back next week when we’ll talk more about digital menu boards in QSR environments, in particular why the upfront cost of implementation should not be as big a consideration as it might initially seem (hint: ROI). And if you’ve already decided that digital menu boards are right for your business, simply request a quote online or call (800) 628-3603 today and RedyRef will be there every step of the way to ensure your company’s unique signage needs and goals are met.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Digital Menu Board Basics

Digital menu boards are everywhere. If you were hoping to be able to avoid them, we at RedyRef are here to tell you you’re out of luck. The pressure is on many quick-service and fast-casual restaurants to make the switch from standard static boards to digital menu boards or dynamic menu displays instead. It’s not just a matter of “keeping up with the Jones’” either. The fact is that making an investment in digital menu boards now makes good financial sense, especially when it comes to the pressure-cooker of tight restaurant margins (pun fully intended). Finding new ways to streamline processes while better tracking inventory, increasing customer satisfaction and engagement and -- let’s be honest -- just plain selling more food is imperative to keeping food service-based businesses afloat.

While there are clearly challenges to planning and deploying a new digital menu board program, the process does not need to be as difficult or complicated as it may first seem. The key to success is partnering with an experienced, vertically-integrated manufacturer like RedyRef. Come along with us as we explain over the following pages exactly how to create the perfect digital menu boards for your unique application.

Let’s start with the basics: why are restaurants adopting digital technology? Some of the reasons our customers have come to us for digital menu boards include:
  • Ability to quickly update content, which can mean anything from adding specials to changing item pricing
  • Potential to minimize future expenditures on new static, non-digital signage, whenever something changes
  • Option to add additional content relevant to their consumers, from local community events to restaurant happenings
  • Greater opportunities for agile testing in each market, from new items and pricing structures to store promotions
  • Efficiencies created from integrations of digital signage and menu boards with point-of-sale (POS) systems and real-time inventory data, so out-of-stock items can be immediately taken off of the menu, avoiding the potential for customer disappointment and frustration.
  • Signage, branding and messaging consistency throughout and between stores, from 1 to 1000, in drive throughs, online, in app form or in line. 

Visual representation of the menu allows for multiple options in terms of food presentation. Rotating slides, 360º views, and crystal-clear graphics often make items more enticing. It allows allows QSRs to focus on items that are more profitable than others, helping to increase overall margins.
Well-organized, attractive, easy-to-read digital menus make for a better customer experience, an easier, clearer ordering process, and a more positive impression of the company overall.

Join us next week as we continue this discussion in more depth.  In the meantime, if you're ready to partner with an experienced, vertically-integrated manufacturer like RedyRef, contact us today at (800) 628-3603 today or request a quote online and we’ll be with you every step of the way to ensure that your program meets every one of your business’ unique needs, from digital boards to dynamic displays.