I remember when I was studying for my masters degree in marketing one of the professors told me something that I thought was profound and I will never forget. He said you have to always know exactly what you are providing your customers. One of the examples he used was Wells Fargo, the stage coach company. He said if Wells Fargo really understood they were selling the service of delivering mail and passengers instead of a stage coach service they may still be in business. They would have provided their service with trains and planes as the delivery vehicles, or technology, changed.
Can we use that same example to understand what is happening in the menu board industry? What service do they provide? They provide the quick serve restaurants with a product to display what they have to sell. If a new technology is developed that will display these products better shouldn’t they switch to the new technology? That means if all the current menu board manufacturers think the industry will eventually switch to digital menu boards they should start making the switch. However, that’s not what I see happening in the industry. Currently most of the digital menu boards are sold by companies outside the menu board industry. What’s happening to the traditional menu board manufacturers?
In one of my earlier blogs I stated that end users should not necessarily purchase digital menu boards from traditional menu board companies. That may be like purchasing an e-mail service from the Post Office. However, I’m seeing completely new companies starting from scratch and selling digital menu boards. Although the IT or AV companies may have a better knowledge of the digital signage products, the traditional menu board manufacturers have a lot of advantages that are very important. They already have a relationship with the restaurant chains and they should understand their needs and how to work with them. Plus, they have a much better understanding of how menu boards are used. Are the traditional menu board manufacturers going to end up like the Wells Fargo stage coach company?