With the impending FDA regulations requiring nutritional and calorie information to be published on menu boards, Quick-Service Restaurants and fast casual restaurants are looking to digital signage as a way to meet the standards. This type of signage provides a platform to easily change information and images—including nutritional data.
The FDA guidelines will be finalized in March 2011 and currently apply to restaurants with twenty or more locations. So what should restaurant owners opting for digital signage look for in a system? And what should sign shops offer to meet the growing demand for digital menu boards? Lori Shridhare outlines some factors to keep in mind.
“I don’t know how other menu board companies design,” says Harvey Friedman, president of Epicure Digital, “but at Epicure Digital, we start by gathering each day all the information for display at each meal, studying the operations at the point of sale, and analyzing sales figures in order to engineer a layout to speed service and optimize sales.”
Friedman advises potential clients to select a menu board designer with digital menu board experience. “The digital medium is very different than print. Ask to see their portfolios,” he says. “And if the designer, like Epicure, has its own software system, ask for a demo. Food service operators want simple, easy-to-use systems. We like to say that the Epicure Digital user interface is designed for people wearing hairnets, on line in the cafeteria. In other words—for foodies, not techies. When lunch is served in an hour and you run out of a product, you need to change it now. You don’t have time to wait for the tech department.”
The Digital Signage Federation provides additional tips about digital menu boards. Here are several questions sign companies and potential clients should ask a digital menu board vendor (a full list can found at http://www.digitalsignagefederation.net/Resources/BenefitsofDigitalMenuBoards):
● Is it Web-based? Does it stream or upload to the media player? In other words, does the content reside server side or media player side?
● If the server goes down, or Internet is unavailable, will the media players still perform?
● Are you able to display multiple RSS feeds on the screen?
● Can the multiple feeds display more than text or are they limited to text? What aboutgraphics?
● What type of warranties are there on your hardware and software?
● Does your software and hardware support video wall technology? If so, do you support the third party integration of such an installation?
● What is the pricing model? Purchase, lease, or Saas (software as a service)?
● What do I have to do to get a demo and/or trial version of the software and hardware?
● What does a demo cost and how long would it last?
● What type(s) of software and/or hardware support do you offer?
● How does your solution integrate with touchscreen applications?
● What if I wanted to start small with the lighter version and then grow it from there?
● What type of scalable discounts can I get if my planned deployment is large?