Preparing for the FDA Menu Labeling: Part Five of Five

Over the past few years, many QSR and Fast Casual concepts have made the switch to Digital Menu Boards in preparation for the upcoming FDA menu labeling requirements. In some states it’s actually already been a requirement for them to meet this mandate.

One of the first questions we get from customers who have made the switch is “now what?” It is easy to put static content on a digital menu board but the real value is in optimizing your assets for the digital medium.  There are endless content strategies that can be employed to maximize product awareness and drive customer behavior.

Below are a few general digital menu board pro tips:WAND Pretzelmaker FDA Menu Compliant

Make them dynamic. There is a reason humans like to watch TV: we’re attracted to dynamic video content. Incorporate dynamic content such as videos and animated movement into your menu boards. It can be a big bold statement if that is on brand or it can be something as simple as showing the steam coming off a cup of coffee. Either way, incorporating movement into your content makes your menu boards more engaging.

Keep animations short and sweet. Just like the typical TV commercial, customers have a tolerance for motion graphics. We advise clients to have promos running for no more than 15 seconds each.

Use all your screens. There are very few restaurants that have just one menu board, typically there are between four to six screens per location. Take advantage of multiple-screens to create unique video content that uses all of them. An example is the full-board take over where all your screens suddenly cut to a short promo for an LTO or special exclusive, in-store only content. It’s a great way to get customers attention and build product awareness.

Change them frequently. With static boards, rolling out an LTO can be cumbersome, time-intensive and costly. With digital you have the ability to update content quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily if you choose. Changing up offers frequently allows you to get the most profitable promos and items in front of your best customers on a regular basis. Plus, you have the flexibility to add or remove content to quickly address supply situations and compliance needs. The power is in your hands.

When you invest in Digital Menu Boards, make sure you are getting the most out of your investment. Hold a brainstorming session with your creative team, look at your marketing calendar and really think about how you can use this channel to increase sales and profits.

Preparing for the FDA Restaurant Menu Labeling: Part Four of Five

WAND Caloric Count Digital Menu BoardsWith the countdown to the FDA restaurant menu labeling requirements deadline approaching (nine months to go from the date of this post) many restaurants are going to have to start moving (if they haven’ already) to get their menus updated with calorie count info.

My team here has outlined a Six Steps to Success plan we’ve been recommending our customers use to prepare for this. I thought today’s post would be a great place to share this plan with everyone:

Six Steps to Success
To prepare for the FDA restaurant menu labeling requirement deadline December 1st, 2015.

1. Choose a Champion. Determine a champion (project manager) in your organization to dedicate to this task. Having one person own this will ensure there is one person pushing to make this happen in your restaurants. Plus it gives you one person who is the designated Subject Matter Expert on the topic.

2. Find Your Calorie Counts. If you don’t have them all yet you’ll need to build your list of calorie counts for your menu items. Identify who in your organization would have the calorie counts and have your champion work with them to finalize your calorie counts list for your menu items.

3. Conduct an Audit. Conduct an audit of all current menu types you need to update. Printed, online, static and Digital Menu Boards, outside menus – anything with written menu items on it needs calorie counts. Build a checklist of all the menus that need to be updated.

4. Create Your Process. Document and process out the typical way menus are updated now (if not already done) in your organization. If you use a vendor (or multiple vendors) to update your menus, notify them of your timeline and your needs. Ask them how they can help update your menus.

5. Determine Your Approach. Determine the ideal approach for updating menus at your organization. Also identify where to make changes (printed vs. online, static vs. digital, time to launch a menu app?). Since you’re taking the time to update all your menus this year it’s the perfect time to consider launching new technologies to make it easier to update menus in the future.

6. Manage Through Completion. The final step is managing your plan through completion. If you’ve built your plan well and done your audit and homework then implementation and execution should be no problem.

What other steps are you taking to prepare for this roll out? Anything I missed?


Preparing for the FDA Caloric Menu Labeling: Part Two of Five

As QSR/Fast Casuals prepare to roll out the FDA caloric menu labeling requirements there are a number of questions that have arisen on how to actually display the calorie counts on menus.

In part two of my blog series on this topic I’d like to explore a few of the finer details a bit further to help with restaurant management. Here are some more specifics on the guidelines for displaying calorie counts on menu boards.

WAND FDA Compliant MenuSize
. The size of the calorie counts can be no smaller than the size of your price or menu item, whichever is smaller. In other words, you can’t the smallest font size possible to display your caloric count.
Best practice: display your calorie counts in the same font size as your prices.

Location. Your calorie counts must be displayed next to the name of the price of the menu item. Most restaurants list the calorie counts next to the price as it makes the most sense from a general layout perspective. However, that can be confusing for the customer with so many numbers in one place.
Best practice: separate the calorie counts from the price points so it’s clearer to the customer.

Color. Calorie counts must be displayed in a same color or in a color at least as eye-catching as the menu item. In other words you can’t try to use a hard to read font color.
Best practice: keep it simple and use the same font color as your menu item whenever possible.

Contrast. The FDA guidelines specify to use the same background or one at least as contrasting as what you are using for the menu item.
Best practice: again, keep it easy and use the same background as you are already using for the menu item.

Combo meals. If a menu board lists three or more items in a combination then your menu board must list this in a range of calories, such as 500-800 calories. If your menu board lists only two choices in a combo meal then you should declare them with a slash 500/800.
Best practice: self-explanatory, you’ve got to follow the guidelines the FDA has set on this one.

As you’re updating your Digital Menu Boards be sure to rely on your restaurant technology and on the skills of your creative team to advise you on the best way to add calorie counts to your menu boards in a clean, consistent and FDA compliant manner.