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As a restaurant operator, you have to make countless decisions every day. One of those decisions is how to influence what people are buying after they walk through the doors. Many operators unintentionally overlook ways they can increase customer loyalty, promote key products, and inspire last-minute sales. That’s why it’s important to optimize your in-store signage and promotional areas to your advantage.


First impressions count, and the front doors are often the first contact your customers will have with your restaurant. They’re a great place to promote specials and other materials that are being marketed on a national level. Often national promotions will trigger recognition with the customer, and they’ll be more likely to choose that promotion when ordering. In addition to displays on the front doors, don’t forget to display POPs throughout the restaurant on windows and hanging from the ceiling. Make sure that whatever you display, it’s in sync with what you’re offering on the menu. A customer who sees the same promotion twice is much more likely to select it.


Once a customer enters your restaurant, they get in line. Don’t miss out on a chance to use a freestanding POP at the entrance to the line. You can display what’s being marketed at a national level or promote one of your highest margin items. It’s also a great area to promote regional menu items that appeal to a local audience. Digital POPs give you added flexibility to choose what to market at a moment’s notice (such as iced coffee instead of hot coffee on a warm day). Again, make sure the items promoted on the POPs reflect what’s listed on the menu.


As the most important marketing tool in your restaurant, the menu board ties all the other promotional items together and helps enhance the customer experience. Make sure you display the latest and greatest menus from the corporate office, whether they’re static or digital. If you’re advertising on the radio, TV, or online, the menu board should highlight those items. Review your menu boards frequently to deemphasize items that are sold out, underscore high margin items, or highlight special LTOs that should get more attention. Digital Menu Technology makes changes like this a breeze and empowers store managers to assist with keeping your marketing materials current. Digital Menu Technology also allows you to have fewer items on the boards, especially if you run multiple dayparts. That makes it easier for the customer to read and will increase the speed of service. If you’re looking for a new static POP board, reach out to your corporate team and request it. It’s likely that if you want to promote a certain menu item, other operators do as well.


Most restaurants now have customer confirmation screens on the customer-facing side of the point of sale to confirm orders. (If you don’t have these, look into getting them.) These screens are a great place to display promotional messages both between and during orders. You can market an item for upsell or inspire a last-minute purchase. If you need help, contact your corporate marketing team and see what they can do. Often the point-of-sale systems are managed by IT teams, not marketing folks, and they forget to include promotional messages.


When a customer is waiting for their food, the pick-up area is a great place to use table-top displays for promotions. Since they’ve already ordered their meal, try encouraging them to purchase a drink or dessert. You can also build customer loyalty by promoting your social media channels, websites, or mobile apps. To build loyalty with local customers, share where you source your food (if local), post a note on a local charity you support, share a local community event that’s coming up, or post personal pictures/stories of your employees or management team supporting local events or causes.


Everyone knows that tables are an excellent place to put promotional materials such as table-tent POPs displaying specials. But the new twist with tables is the growing popularity of table-top games, whether on tablets or built into the tables themselves. These games are growing in popularity and, in addition to giving your restaurant a more modern feel, they can also be used to promote marketing messages like national web and TV ads. If you have a restaurant design that includes table-top games and your guests are engaging with these on a regular basis, ask your marketing team to incorporate promotional messages into these displays.


Although it’s not a new practice, putting promotional messages on bags is an easy way to communicate with your customers and build brand loyalty. As a restaurant operator, you don’t always have flexibility for what is printed on the bags, but you can add personal touches. It can be as simple as having your employees write a friendly message, smiley face, or hashtag on the bag. It enhances the customer experience because it’s a personal touch that people remember.


If you don’t already, make sure you use marketing messages on your paper tray liners. They typically come from your marketing team, but sometimes restaurant employees forget to put the liners onto the trays and the message isn’t used. Tray liners are perfect ways to get promotional messages in front of your customers. They’re simple yet can be extremely valuable: customers spend five or ten minutes eating their meal, so those tray liners get plenty of attention.


This one can be controversial, but restrooms offer valuable real estate for your restaurant and should be used to display signage. Use signage where it makes sense, like on the doors, inside the stalls, or by the mirror or paper towels. Make sure this key real estate is working to your advantage.


Video walls are appearing more at quick service and fast casual restaurants around the world to create an engaging customer experience. Video walls help set the mood or change the atmosphere of a restaurant, and many operators are using them to give their restaurants an instant makeover. From a marketing perspective, a video wall is hard to miss, so it’s the perfect place to promote your high margin items and best sellers.

One more tip for your in-restaurant signage: Restaurants, especially quick service and fast casual, may find paper signage challenging. Between the heat and grease of a QSR or fast casual restaurant, static boards can get dirty fast. Management teams should swap out old, dirty paper signage on a regular basis with new, cleaner signage. Of course, making the switch to Digital Menu Technology will not only last longer and require zero staff time to update, it increases average ticket size and boosts revenues as well.

Want to learn more about Digital Menu Technology? Click here. 

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