The other day, my daughter and I drove into the drive-thru at a very popular restaurant. Our mission: to get my kid her favorite egg sandwich. As we were sitting in the car at the menu boards waiting to order, two uniformed crew members ran out of the back door of the restaurant and began to take the signs apart to replace the Breakfast content with the Lunch boards.

WAND Outdoor Digital Menu BoardsWe moved ahead and placed our orders but since this was a dual-lane drive-thru and also had a presell board, the folks who were tasked with changing out the boards were still out there as we drove off down the street with our breakfast!

The moral of this story? Operational efficiency and Return on Investment (ROI) should both be considered as reasons for adding Outdoor Digital Menu Boards to your QSR or Fast Casual restaurant. Yes, the initial capital expense for outdoor digital can be 2x more than indoor, but if your store’s numbers work, this is a big win.

Here are five reasons Outdoor Digital Menu Boards are a big win for restaurants:

1. There is an ROI. If the drive-thru represents 60-70% of your restaurant revenue, and you’ve already succeeded with Digital inside, simple math says you really can financially justify spending 2x or possibly even more on Outdoor.

2. New Outdoor Technology is Better. Brighter Screens (2000 nit) are less expensive than they were five years ago, and enclosures can weather the elements (hot, cold, wet) in some cases without air conditioners and lots of noisy fans. Not to mention lower energy consumption.

3. Increased Sales of Higher Profit Items. Simplicity is the key to menu content at the drive-thru. During busy times, you want customers to see and order the fastest, highest profit items.  Digital is the only way to effectively influence customer behavior outside during each day part, special events, and holidays. Help them find and order their favorite LTOs.

4. No More Cranes! It used to take a truck crane to do three-board Outdoor installations, and many lanes can’t accommodate a crane. Today, there are great looking enclosures that can be erected with two strong laborers.

5. Calories, Anyone? The upcoming FDA menu labeling requirements for calorie counts that kick in on December 1, 2015 apply equally to outdoor menus as they do to indoor. Don’t let the regulations have a negative impact on outdoor sales by making your menus even more complicated and busy than they already are— instead use digital techniques, such as movies and motion graphics, to make them simpler, more attractive and dynamic.

In the very near future, Outdoor Digital Menu Boards in the drive-thru will become an expectation of customers.  The bottom line is you’ll need this to compete effectively. The digital drive-thru improves your ability to sell, increases order accuracy, creates the ability to react more quickly to market changes and current events, keeps restaurants in sync with enterprise media buying such as TV, Radio and the Internet, can reduced perceived waiting times and promotes customer satisfaction, especially among younger demographics who prefer digital to static content and like waiting even less than their parents!