Digital menu boards are used among restaurant operators as a tool to improve customer experience, drive sales lift, and increase operational efficiency. When used properly, these are both a valuable sales tool and a competitive differentiator.
Here are three key ways restaurant operators should be using digital menus.
1. Improve Customer Experience
Dining out isn’t solely about eating and drinking, it’s about the entire experience. Good food and great service will only take your restaurant so far; the overall customer experience is critical. Digital menu boards give restaurants an instant “with the times” design that’s modern and appealing — particularly to younger audiences with higher disposable incomes.
When using digital menus, you need to think differently than you do with cardboard “static” boards. Static boards are there to simply display menu items; digital menus are there to tell a story and enhance the overall design of your restaurant. Use your digital menus to call out signature dishes and high-margin items and to showcase your brand’s personality. You need to think strategically about how you can best use this key real estate to not only show off your best menu items but your brand itself.
2. Drive Sales Lift and/or Adjust Product Mix
Unlike static menus, digital menus are flexible and should be used to drive sales lift or to change what your customer is buying. When you add digital menus to your store, it’s important to recognize that you aren’t simply adding an electronic version of your cardboard menu; you’re giving yourself the dexterity to make instant, on-the-fly changes (or changes based on time of day) to your menu to increase profits.
Here are some things you should be doing with your digital menus to increase your revenues:
- Adjust prices (raising items by just a nickel or dime during key periods can boost revenue significantly)
- Promote your high-margin items and add animations to them to draw the eyes
- Change menu items for weather conditions (e.g. promoting ice cream items during a heat wave)
- Highlight products that are faster to make during lunch and/or dinner rushes thereby improving your speed of service times
- Use advanced dayparts to promote certain menus at key times (e.g. late night snacks as a “mealtime” is growing in popularity)
Many restaurant operators make the mistake of putting in digital menus but not leveraging as far as possible. Once your menus are in place, you should make it a point to audit your menu and make changes on a regular basis. As you are evaluating digital menu content management systems, be sure you are choosing a system that is easy to use and also one that gives you the control to do this directly in the software. Or, look for software that uses predictive modeling and digital intelligence to make automated changes based on information in your point of sale.
3. Increase Operational Efficiency
All restaurant operators (and customers) know there is a huge difference between a restaurant that is run efficiently and one that is not. When using digital menus, you obviously get the benefit of not having to worry about sending someone up on a ladder to swap out static menus, but there are some other places you can use them to maximize operational efficiency as well:
- Promote menu items you need to move out. For example, if you have a surplus of chicken that is about to expire, you should promote a chicken dish front and center during your lunch rush all week.
- Test out new menu items. It’s important to keep your menu fresh, but it’s difficult to always know what customers like. By rotating out new items frequently, you can test them out to see which ones your customers respond to the most. Then, you can make them regular menu items. Performed at a concept level, this quickly reduces time-to-market for test items and allows the system to capitalize on new trends.
Finally, the biggest piece of advice we can give you when it comes to digital menus is that you get out of them what you put into them. Like any technology, the more you understand it and use it to your advantage, the more you’ll benefit from having them in your restaurants.