Digital Signage Increases Restaurant Profits, Provides Customer Satisfaction
Digital signage is an electronic display for various media, including TV, graphic displays and different types of information within a closed environment. It’s effective in many venues, and restaurants are certainly near the top of the list.
With digital signage, messages are controlled by management via individual PCs or servers usually supported by proprietary software programs. The application is easy, relatively inexpensive (a small-scale retail or restaurant digital signage installation can be implemented for around $1,500) and fluid—the message can be changed at will to target specific restaurant patrons at specific times. Testing and measurement of effectiveness can be as simple as comparing restaurant receipts with the digital signage in use at periodic times during the day.
Digital signage can be updated any time, doing away with the cost of printing posters and other static signage within a restaurant. In more sophisticated restaurant venues, patrons may see digital signage used in kiosks or other interactive touch screens that engage them to a greater degree and make the dining experience more interactive. In many instances, digital signage can help make the wait time in a restaurant seem shorter, since patrons are focused on the message or messages being presented to them digitally.
Used for restaurant menu displays, digital signage lets you change menu items as needed, highlight specials with added graphic appeal, and customize television programming to meet changing patron preferences on a pre-determined schedule.
One company that offers digital signage solutions is NEC. NEC equips restaurant management with commercial-grade, large-screen LCD displays that,
- allow restaurant management to post changes to their menu instantaneously. For example, if a certain menu item is selling too fast or if one isn’t selling fast enough, it’s easy to make immediate updates to the menu board.
- improve customer service. The screens can be used after-hours to conduct training, improving both service and camaraderie.
- control energy costs. Displays can be programmed to turn on and off according to restaurant hours.
- prevent black screens. Self-monitoring software instantly replaces images before patrons realize there is a problem.
One example of a digital signage implementation in a restaurant took place at Pei Wei Asian Diner, a nationwide chain featuring a more casual take on parent company P.F. Chang’s. The restaurant management was looking for a way to replace printed menu panels with a more flexible and changeable format. The high printing costs of static displays drained the company’s finances, and the delays in print production made it a challenge to keep information up-to-date. They turned to NEC to replace static signage with LCD displays for menu boards and promotional content in late 2009. The pilot program was introduced at the restaurant’s corporate home of Scottsdale, Arizona.
Pei Wei tested the program in their Scottsdale location, then went national, purchasing 486 displays, three units at each of its 162 nationwide locations. Benefits experienced were pricing flexibility afforded by the digital signage solution, as well increased opportunities for brand awareness and targeted messages to restaurant customers.
PEI Wei’s brand director, Terry Haley, says “The digital menu boards allow us to customize to exactly what we need, whether a small initiative or a nationwide promotion. We can manage everything remotely, which helps in scheduling content. While a playlist is running, we can work behind the scenes to tweak and change programming as needed and appropriate to a specific location.”
It’s important to remember that digital signage, like any technological tool, is only effective if restaurant management and staff make a commitment to using, testing and analyzing it on a regular basis. By comparing different programming and updating activities with receipts at the cash register, digital signage can be a significant addition to a restaurant manager’s toolkit.
(Images used with permission from NEC.)
Pei Wei: www.peiwei.com