If you specialize in quick service or fast casual restaurant IT solutions, take note. Digital drive-thru menu board technology used to be reserved, due to cost and integration challenges, to large restaurant chains. Today, costs are dropping, and the solutions are now realistically attainable by smaller restaurants. Tom Jones, technology consultant II, ProAV/Digital Signage, Ingram Micro, took some time recently to explain why this burgeoning tech segment is one solution that solution providers should be addressing.
Why should solution providers sell digital drive-thru menu boards?
Jones: Everything has aligned to create the best opportunity we’ve ever seen. LCDs continue to drop in price—even in the niche of weather-hardened units. There are also more choices for purpose-built enclosures. Finally, content management systems (CMSs) continue to be refined for drive-thru applications. The punchline is that these solutions are now affordable for smaller chains and easier for solution providers to install.
What are some special considerations to keep in mind concerning digital drive-thru menu boards?
Jones: Outdoor signage always carries additional challenges due to the environment. Consider that the menu board is going to be outside all year round. Depending on the location, that could mean the hardware needs to be rated to operate in extremely high or low temperatures.
How do solution providers select the right display enclosures?
Jones: The enclosure must keep out precipitation and dust and have proper ventilation. It’s important to test any enclosures before you use them to ensure no precipitation gets in. Additionally, you may also need the enclosure to have heating and cooling features to help regulate the temperature of the display. It’s important that these features don’t negatively affect the display within. For example, you certainly don’t want the heater overheating the display.
What are some common mistakes to avoid?
Jones: Apart from the above-mentioned considerations, it’s important to note that outdoor applications like these require one to be familiar with rules and regulations concerning outdoor electrical work and construction. You’ll be running power and networking cables from the main building out to the signage and it must be done to local code.
Additionally, you can’t overlook the need to select displays that have an adequate brightness to be seen in direct sunlight. The enclosure might also need an added film to eliminate glare and help readability in bright light.
Make sure you’re also prepared to work through the integrations required for outdoor menu boards. Today, restaurants want their signage integrated with the point-of-sale to show customers their orders on-screen. You’ll also need to integrate speakers and microphones. Finally, many are also incorporating video surveillance cameras.
Finally, a common mistake would be to miss this opportunity. It’s generally accepted that 70% of quick-service sales occur at the drive-thru. If outdoor signage shows comparable sales increases as indoor menu boards, it won’t be long before every restaurant is asking for such solutions. Make sure it’s on your line card before customers ask.