Are digital menu boards really that complicated?

 | by Scott Sharon
Are digital menu boards really that complicated?

We all know there’s a lot of differences between digital menu boards and traditional menu boards. They are new and there’s a lot to learn, but are they really that much more complicated? Have you ever noticed how some of us like to make new technology seem more complicated than it really is and then try to convince our prospective customers that we are the only ones that can do it right? I’ll give you some examples of this I have experienced.

Several years ago, I accepted a consulting job to help a digital signage company design a digital menu board system for one of the large quick-serve restaurant chains. After all the design work was completed and prototypes were produced we had our big opportunity to present our system to the prospective customer in its corporate office. We show up with a team of about six people (our first mistake) including the CEO.

The prospect had about the same number of people, mostly marketing people. After all the introductions the CEO (an engineer) turned the meeting over to his sales/engineer to explain the features and show how the system worked. I thought the presentation was much more technical than it needed to be, and a few minutes later I was convinced of this when I saw the eyes of the marketing people start to glass over as they lost interest. All they really wanted to hear was “What will this do for me?” and a little about how to operate it. After the presentation, we installed our prototype in a mock-up restaurant and gave some demonstrations.

There were some other minor mistakes that are normal for a project like this, but overall the team made it seem much more complicated than it actually was. As a result instead of receiving an order, the prospect decided to upgrade their old menu boards instead of going with new digital menu boards because they thought they were too complicated and expensive. About a year later I saw the exact same thing happen with another major quick-serve chain. Just recently I lost an order for approximately 400 digital drive-thru menu boards, primarily because my competition convinced them the boards were too complicated.

My point in this blog is that new technology can be difficult for people just because it is new and they have to do things differently. They are usually a little nervous about making the switch anyway. We definitely don’t want to make it seem more difficult or complicated than it is when actually it is much easier. The major reasons to purchase the equipment are ease of use and dramatically increased capabilities.


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