Digital Menu Boards – Just Starting Out, or Going All Out?


Getting Digital Menu Boards installed is an exciting thing for restaurant concepts. They look awesome, you can swap out LTOs and test menu items faster and you save money by not having to print and hang static menu boards.

There are two approaches when it comes to installing digital menus and it all comes down to whether you’re just starting out with them or if you’ve decided to go all out. Let’s explore them

Just Starting Out

If you are just starting out, a lab is a great way to go. Pick a room in your HQ, and install the menu boards in a configuration that closely duplicates the setup you envision you’ll want in a store. If you have a lot of stores, vendors will bend over backwards to help you do this. This phase should last no more than 60-90 days.

The lab provides the opportunity for you to get to know the hardware and software, and your vendors. It’s here where you can test out the operation of the boards, and begin to make important decisions like what content to use on which boards. This is a great opportunity to test new creative ideas, and you should show the setup to as many people as possible, including potentially testing with consumers. The goal of a lab is to be ready to succeed in the first stores right out of the gate.

Pilots should be more than one store. If you have a lot of locations, then you already know evaluating critical operations infrastructure must be done at more than one site to get a true picture of how equipment and procedures will function day-to-day, week-to-week, year over year. This should last a maximum of 6 months. Consider piloting in multiple regions: North, South, East and West. This will ensure you get a clear picture of how your menu boards will work when fully deployed. It’s worth the investment.

If you have different shapes and sizes of stores (e.g. activated versus legacy, or mall store versus stand alone, outparcel versus urban) make sure you have each footprint represented in the pilot.

Going All Out

If you’ve already conducted a successful pilot, apply lessons learned for all stores. If you have especially complicated IT system, networking or security needs, or integration with other systems, your installations could be more complex and you’ll want to plan ahead and engage with any partners who will be involved in the rollouts early.

If you have diverse geography (or even more to the point, international locations) you’ll want to take into account all the special requirements those areas or countries may introduce to the mix. These could include things as obvious as language, but can also range from minutiae like country-specific power cords for displays to show-stopper situations like taxes and tariffs that might be encountered.

Economies of scale are important in the QSR and Fast Casual restaurant industry. If you run a multi-unit restaurant operation, you can benefit from economies of scale– discounts on equipment, resource availability, and potentially efficiencies in scheduling when you build out several at once.

When it comes to digital menus everyone moves at their own pace. Some people launch ten stores at once and …rely on their partners’ implementation expertise to achieve success, others like to take a one-store approach to understand the ins and outs to the fullest they can. In the end, our advice to use is to do what feels right for your concept.