How to Set Up Restaurant Digital Menu Boards
Digital menu boards have been a staple of fast food drive-thrus for a significant amount of time, but now restaurants all over the U.S. have begun to realize the benefits of having digital menu boards inside their establishments.
Restaurants can benefit from many types of digital signage, and digital menu boards are one of the best uses for the restaurant environment. From increasing sales to improving the customer experience, digital menu systems can have a revolutionary impact on a restaurant’s revenue–one that far surpasses the pricing of installation.
In this article, we will walk you through all the steps you need to take to set up digital menu boards in your own restaurant, so you can start to take advantage of this powerful technology.
What is a Digital Menu Board?
A digital restaurant menu board is pretty much what it sounds like. Digital menu displays are digital visuals which list menu items on a digital screen like a television or an LCD display. The digital menu boards are managed by the content management software from digital signage solutions, which typically offer menu board templates for effective digital menu design.
Unlike traditional menu boards, digital menu boards are not restricted to static text. With digital menu board software, you can display text, high-quality images, videos, animations, promotions, and more. This makes a digital menu board highly dynamic and powerful in the restaurant setting.
In the following section, we will talk about some of the most salient benefits that come with digital menu boards.
Some Benefits of Digital Menu Boards for Restaurants
Although the restaurant industry continues to see significant growth, restaurants must take advantage of the best technology available to them to outshine the competition. Digital menu boards are far more versatile than alternative menus.
One of the best things about digital menu boards is that they are highly customizable. You can use digital signage software to design your menu board to perfectly fit your restaurant’s needs.
Moreover, you can set up your digital signage playlist to display different menus at different times of the day. For example, if you have different menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can use the content management system to automate the menu board to change menus at the desired time.
This gives you much more space on your digital menu to display mouthwatering visuals that serve as a great POS marketing strategy that will help your restaurant upsell.
Ultimately, using a digital menu board will also save the costs (both time and money) of printing new menus every time an item on your menu changes. Instead of printing expensive traditional menus, you can simply use your digital signage software to edit the menu in hardly any time.
But digital menu boards do not merely save money, as we somewhat touched on above, they can also help generate more sales. When people see eye-catching visuals of delicious food, they will be more likely to spend more money for their order.
Additionally, digital menu boards can significantly improve the customer experience by reducing perceived wait times. No one likes waiting in line, but time tends to feel like it goes a lot faster when people are entertained while they are waiting.
With stunning visuals, you can use your digital menu board to keep your customers entertained, so waiting in line for food can be a much more enjoyable experience.
Additionally, you need not only display menu items on your digital menu board. Since so many customers will be looking at the board, some space on the screen could be put to good use by promoting your social media accounts.
There are so many more benefits of digital menu boards for restaurants, but we hope we have given you a taste of the worth of a digital menu board. It's because digital menus are so effective that they are not just a passing restaurant trend.
And now for what you really came for: it's time to talk about how you actually go about setting up and installing a digital menu board in your restaurant.
How to Set Up a Digital Menu Board for Restaurants
There are two ways to set up a digital menu board, both involving one or more electronic screens with HDMI or USB connections. Once you have your digital displays, you can either connect a signage player, like the one offered by Loop TV, or a thumb drive.
The most popular setup is using a signage player because it is easier to manage multiple screens from a single dashboard, and most signage players come with easy-to-use menu templates.
Luckily most restaurants, including small, independent restaurants, can piece together a digital display system easily. All you need is a screen, a compatible digital signage player, mounting hardware, and cords to connect these components.
Step 1: Choose Your Digital Signage Solution
Choosing what type of software will work best for your restaurant will largely depend on your needs. However, as we discussed above, it is certainly ideal to go with a proprietary digital menu board solution. You can get cloud-based digital signage solutions or hardware based digital signage solutions, complete with a media player.
While many might want to avoid the need to invest in a digital signage solution because of the perceived cost, there are other high-quality options. For example, Loop TV offers a digital signage player for free, and this free digital signage solution is one of the best on the market. So you don’t have to worry about sacrificing quality for a better price.
Step 2: Get your Digital Signage Hardware
Once you have chosen your preferred sign player company, you’ll need to get all the other necessary hardware. This includes the screen, sign player, and peripheral items like mounting hardware and Wi-Fi signal boosters.
Screens: Most digital menu boards operate on smart TVs. Either LCD or LED screens will work; you just need to be sure that the screens you purchase have HDMI ports, as most digital sign players connect via HDMI.
The number of screens you need will vary based on the size of your menu, what you want to display, and how much space you have. If you plan to install your screens outdoors, you’ll need to ensure they are graded for water and wind resistance.
Additionally, you may want to consider whether your restaurant would benefit from vertical interactive screens, where customers can order their food and pay for their food with credit cards by themselves.
2. Signage Player:
These are small devices, similar to a Roku or an Apple TV. Many digital signage companies provide their own signage players. Often, the cost is factored into your monthly fee, or you’ll pay upfront. Of course, as we discussed above, getting a signage player from Loop TV is absolutely free.
3. Mounting Hardware and Connection Cables:
You’ll need to buy mounting gear to install your TVs, as well as compatible connecting cables.
Depending on your restaurant’s layout and whether you have chosen to go with a cloud-based digital signage solution or a hardware based digital signage solution, you may also need internet signal boosters, routers, or wireless access points to ensure your digital signs never lose connectivity.
Step 4: Mounting Your Digital Screens
Once you have chosen your digital signage solution and purchased your hardware, you should be ready to mount your screens to the wall.
Before you grab your level and power drill, you need to find the ideal location for your screens. You want your digital menus to be visible in high-traffic areas where your customers can see them.
Often this means that a digital menu board will be mounted behind the cash register area, so customers can look at the menu while they are waiting in line to order and as they are ordering.
Additionally, you may want to put other digital menu boards up in different areas of your establishment, since customers may be enticed to buy more food after seeing something delicious displayed.
Of course, if your restaurant is a sit down restaurant, then you will want to make sure that the menus are visible from all seating areas. When choosing the location of the digital menu board or menu boards, there are a few other considerations to help inform your decision.
In general, you will want to make sure that your menu boards are placed:
1. Near electrical outlets. Your screens (and sometimes your sign player too) will need to be plugged in to electricity. You’ll want to place your screens within 3 to 6 feet of a grounded wall outlet.
2. Near a Wi-Fi signal if your digital signage player is connected through the cloud. In this case, you’ll need to have a stable internet connection to ensure your content reliably shows up on your displays.
3. Away from glare. Light fixtures and light from windows can cause glare on your screens. You can reduce this by purchasing anti-glare screens, moving light fixtures, or adjusting your screens’ tilt.
Many commercial grade digital displays are outfitted for anti-glare purposes, and this is an extremely important point because much of the visual appeal of a digital menu board will be lost if people cannot read the screen because of glare.
4. Away from heat and water. Restaurants and other service businesses should be mindful of the temperature near their screens. Additionally, water and steam are also a concern. To ensure the longevity of your digital menu board, you will want to make sure that the environment is as conducive to the recommended specifications of the screen environment as possible.
5. In a stable wall. Mounting your screen to wall studs is a choice that many restaurants make. Additionally, you can mount your screens to a brick or concrete wall. However, this may require professional installation, which could cost more money as an upfront investment.
Step 5: Create Menus and Digital Signage Playlists
Most digital signage platforms have a gallery of images and content widgets to help you create dynamic images, animation, or even videos to enliven your displays. Alternatively, if you have design experience or a designer working for you to create menus and other content for your digital menu, you can design your own digital menu.
If you do not feel confident in your design skills, it can be well worth it to employ a practiced digital designer to maximize the benefits of your digital menu board. The beauty of a digital menu board is that you can use bright colors and eye-catching graphics to capture your customers’ attention and guide them through your menu.
Professional Digital Menu Board Installation
Smart TVs are getting lighter every year, but they are still expensive, sensitive equipment that can do some real damage if they fall. If you are even the slightest bit stressed about installing screens yourself, call a licensed professional.
If you buy your screens from a big-box retailer like Best Buy or Home Depot, you can use their referral tools to find a local, independent installation technician. However, these professionals tend to focus on basic wall-hanging installations, so you may need to shop around to find someone capable of more complex, ceiling-hung installations.
If you are mounting several screens in walls without grounded electrical outlets, you should also call an electrician. It may be less expensive in the short term to connect your screens via lengths of extension cords, but daisy-chained extension cords can be a fire and trick hazard. It is far safer to have a professional install a few more electrical outlets exactly where you need them.
An Investment that is Worth the Price
As we have shown, there are a number of factors to consider when setting up a digital menu board. Moreover, a digital menu system can be somewhat costly as an upfront investment. Some restaurants may go for cheaper screens, and this can still be a great improvement over traditional menus.
However, the more expensive screens are more expensive for a reason, and often they will have anti-glare screens that you might not get with cheaper options. Moreover, many digital signage solutions can cost a significant amount of money, but luckily Loop TV offers a free digital signage option that is one of the best around.
Ultimately, a digital menu board system is an investment, but it is an investment that many restaurants all over the U.S. are making. Restaurants have realized that digital menu boards do not only make their establishment appear more modern, but that there are also tangible results when it comes to improving the customer experience and helping to increase sales.
So it makes sense that digital menu boards are sweeping the nation because digital menu boards really do bring returns for those restaurants that invest in them.