In the blog Menu Boards and Beyond Blog Part-1; I wrote about how Mr. Flanigan and Mr. Ventura highlighted the outstanding reasons why a restaurant owner should switch to a digital menu board. To recap where this information came from, The webinar of Menu Boards and Beyond was presented by NEC with host(s) Paul Flanigan Executive Director of Digital Screenmedia Association and Richard Ventura Vice President of Product Marketing and Solutions at NEC Display Solutions of America, Inc. outlined the importance of digital media use not just in digital menu boards but incorporation into the total restaurant patron experience.
In part-2 of the blog I will detail how going digital means much more than just getting a digital menu board. I would once again say that it is important to note that not all restaurants need to incorporate everything digital. Just because there is technology does not mean you have to use it. You must first know and understand your patrons and plan accordingly with the end in mind. That is why it is important to discuss your future goals from the beginning with your sales representative. In the webinar Mr. Flanigan and Mr. Ventura explain how going digital means more than just menu boards by stating why digital signage is so important, trends that are taking place right now and important things you should know when considering going digital.
So why is digital signage so important to a restaurant owner? The answer is, digital signage allows you better connection, communication, commoditization and design. Allow me to better explain.
Digital signage gives you better connection with your patrons by providing interactive menus and the use of social media. Digital signage also gives you better connection with other technologies from device to another device. Customers with mobile devices become brand ambassadors by connecting with you via social media. These customers share their experience at your restaurant through social media and then your unique menu becomes a virtual menu. When you tie into your POS, it can monitor inventory levels for certain specials and can switch specials if necessary allowing for greater inventory management.
Digital signage provides better communication to your customers by allowing you to introduce sales and specials during any time of the day, control what you want and when you want it and express what is happening right now. Digital signage gives you the restaurant owner the ability to run a sale or change specials any time you choose and as often as you choose. Digital also allows you to make these changes from anywhere you wish.
Digital signage for restaurants are more readily available, price points have come down and the purchase of networks and install is a lot easier. You will of coarse want commercial grade equipment for your restaurant so that it lasts longer in the harsh environment. It is important to note that purchasing a commercial grade screen from your local Best Buy, Walmart or whatever and using it in a public venue puts you in a very high risk of voiding the warranty instantly. They are very specific about what they can and can’t be used for, so it is better to purchase the commercial grade screen from a restaurant digital menu board supplier.
Going digital in a restaurant is moving past just hanging a digital menu board on the wall. Now restaurants are redesigning venue’s to adopt local themes and integrating screens into the facility physically. Adopting more than just a menu board for digital provides your restaurant a better opportunity to engage with your patrons. Use digital to engage with children. While the parents eat, the children can play games. This allows you to build relationships at an early age. Use digital to engage with patrons by providing a means to browse the web, work and even order food from the station.
TRENDS THAT ARE TAKING PLACE RIGHT NOW:
Some of the latest trends for using digital in restaurants are interactivity, gameification, I-Beacon and mobile payments. All these trends add to the customer’s positive experience, your marketing and building relationships.
As a restaurant you can increase your interaction with your patrons by utilizing kiosks, tables, cellphones and tablets and screens for dietary information. Kiosks can use touch screens full of information that allows patrons to interact with your restaurant. Use them in your line or waiting room to provide your customers with menu specials and sales to speed their decision when it comes time to order. At tables you can either project a menu or special or even use the traditional touch screen to interact with your restaurant customers. Mobile is becoming more and more of a play in digital signage. We are a society of interaction and cell phones and tablets are a big reason why. Use a specified screen for dietary information to help your patrons in ordering and also comply with the nutrition laws that apply to your restaurant.
Use gameification in your restaurant so your digital menu board and their mobile device can interact with each other. Have your customer order from their cell phone and once placed they can have their order pop-up on their mobile screen. It is a great way to interact with your customer and build relationships.
I-Beacon is like NFC (Near Field Communication) and can be used in drive-thrus or fast casual environments. In a drive-thru or fast casual environment you can push your menu or specials to their mobile devices. Also in a fast casual environment you can determine how long your customer has been there and push a dessert menu to them.
Mobile payment is a convienient way for your customers to pay for their meal. To provide a mobile payment you will need an omni-channel though. That is why you need to consider where you want to go with digital from the beginning, know where you want to go and plan accordingly. The most important thing to remember when planning your digital goal is to know and understand your patron. You will need to know what technology your patrons use, not just money spent and the time of day they frequent your restaurant. It is a safe bet that almost all patrons have a mobile attitude. This is a big opportunity to engage with them as they will share their experience via social media. Once you have your digital strategy figured out, you will then need to have the technology to support your eco-system. Your eco-system will include software, hardware and connectivity. Your connectivity can be either wi-fi or cellular.
Towards the end of the webinar Mr. Flanigan and Mr. Ventura highlighted five things you should know. These five things were begin with the end in mind, focus on provable ROI, bring everyone to the table, speak the same language and be the customer.
BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND:
Just because there is technology, does not mean you have to use it. If you do not understand your customer then you will run a high risk of failure.
FOCUS ON PROVABLE ROI:
Start small and then build accordingly. Do not add multiple ideas where the ROI can’t be tracked properly. One idea may prove well while the others do not and you will not be able to tell which one was the good idea. You will also need to understand how the ROI is measured. You may here someone state that switching to a restaurant digital menu board increased their ROI by 20%. Great, but how and where did that 20% come from?
BRING EVERYONE TO THE TABLE:
Include everyone in the decision making process from corporation, owners, managers, servers and even customers. Everyone has a stake in the success of your digital transformation.
SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE:
Make sure everyone knows what you are talking about. Do not assume that everyone understands what you mean when you use certain terminology.
BE THE CUSTOMER:
Learn how the customer experience is in your restaurant. Also discover how your competition customer experience relates to yours. Put yourself in your customer shoes to see how switching to digital can improve their experience in your restaurant.
Technology has leveled the playing field for restaurants. Switching to digital allows you to interact and engage with your customer like never before and increasing the opportunity to promote brand loyalty with your menu. Whether you are just switching to a restaurant digital menu board or redesigning your restaurant and incorporating multiple digital strategies you will need to have a sound strategy map in place in order to be successful. Know and understand your customer, be your customer, include everyone in the plan, focus on the provable ROI and speak the same language.
I would once again like to thank Mr. Flanigan and Mr. Ventura for providing this informative and educational webinar Menu Boards and Beyond. I would encourage you to check them out via the links I provided. I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and have a better understanding how going digital can help your restaurant. At Menu Board Depot we offer several restaurant digital opportunities for you to purchase and start the switch to digital for your restaurant.
Here’s to your continued success with your restaurant,