If you haven’t heard in some of our earlier blog posts affordable outdoor digital menus for QSR and Fast Casual are here to stay. As hardware prices continue to come down, systems become more modular, and installations get easier, more and more brands are adopting outdoor digital menu systems to help increase revenue in the most prevalent sector of their business…and that means you need to be ready for outdoor digital menus sooner than later!
Here are five quick tips to make sure you’re ready for outdoor digital menu systems when they arrive:
- Integrate Your POS System. While they look great, drive revenue, and engage customers, outdoor digital menu systems are really all about adding operational efficiency. If you have to send an employee outside to change prices, update menu slats, or direct traffic through the drive-thru, you’re losing money every time they go out that door. One of the best steps to preparing for outdoor digital menus is to integrate your POS system with your digital menu system now, so that when those outdoor menus get installed, they’ll begin automatically updating pricing from day one. How much would you save on operational expenses if you didn’t need to send someone outside to manage your drive-thru menus ever again?
- Identify Your Digital Menu Strategy. Brand engagement opportunities with outdoor digital menu system are vast, but to truly engage your customers you need a digital menu strategy. A few questions to ask yourself when planning for digital menus:
- Does your displayed menu mix vary between indoor and outdoor?
- What items do you want to feature most heavily in the outdoor space? Do you prefer to focus on the money makers, or the quickly served bundled items?
- How can you maximize the use of the existing brand content you already have? Can you re-utilize content from your indoor signage system, or do you need to plan to create unique content for your outdoor space?
- What items may need to change on the fly? Do you promote hot or cold drinks that may not sell as well in inclement weather? Do you have promotional items that drag down your speed of service during peak hours? What about items that don’t serve well through the drive-thru (ever had hot chili cheese fries spill in your lap? I have!)
- Set Goals. We evangelize strategy planning every chance we get. Having goals for your strategy is important, but even more important is having the RIGHT goals. Here’s a few metrics you may not have considered when thinking about how to measure ROI from your outdoor digital menu system:
- Sales Lift: This one’s pretty obvious. Tracking sales lift on key items is a great metric for tracking the success of a digital menu program.
- Operational Costs: Make sure you’re tracking your overall operational costs as you track the outdoor digital signage program. This is an often overlooked metric that can provide a great return over time.
- Speed of Service: Because there’s no sales number directly tied to your speed of service, you may consider this an unimportant metric when measuring the success of a menu program, but truth be told, the speed at which you serve your customers directly impacts their willingness to return and order again, and outdoor digital menu boards play a direct role in that.
- Order Accuracy: Just like speed of service, tracking your order accuracy doesn’t necessarily provide a direct financial metric (other than throwing away incorrect orders), but can be a very strong indicator metric for the overall success of your outdoor menus.
- Average Check: Let’s go back to a metric that gives you a direct ROI value. Measuring your average check before and after the implementation of outdoor menus will tell you just how effective the content you’ve selected is.
- Plan to Measure. Before the sales orders are signed, work-orders completed, and outdoor Digital Menu Boards are powered up, have a solid plan in place on how you measure the success or failure of your digital menu program. Measuring one or two metrics at a single restaurant won’t give you an accurate picture of how successful your investment has been for you, and might lead you to decommission a program that is actually providing more ROI than you think. Set up a spreadsheet, define the intervals between measurement, and measure with enthusiasm! Even more importantly, take some time to track those metrics BEFORE you implement outdoor digital menus – this will give you an excellent baseline to which you can compare your results after implementation.
- Measure to Plan. This is another area where we see some brands fall a little short. Pilots and field tests may generate some encouraging initial results, leading you to assume that the program is a success (or vice versa, but we hope that’s not the case!). Truth be told, no single metric can truly measure the impact of such an important system, and the planning of a digital menu program should include constant changes to measure how different strategies affect your brand. Outdoor menu boards are great because they allow you to make changes to roll out updates system wide, plan out A/B testing in similar markets, test different price points, and collect previously not possible metrics to further refine your product marketing strategies.