What criteria do you use to select a digital menu board content supplier?

I spent a good part of last week filling out and submitting an RFP for digital menu boards for a major QSR chain. I have worked on several of these recently and they all seem to me to be lacking in a major area. 

I have been in this industry since well before it started and in all that time the experts (including me) have said “content is king”, “content is the most important component of a digital menu board” and made similar statements. However, in most of the RFP’s I have seen by major chains content and content supplier qualifications seem to be at the bottom of the list. 

I’ll use the RFP I did last week as an example. Like most, the RFP was huge. It had 11 sections and each section had from 5 to 35 questions, but most had well over 20 questions per section. Guess which one had 5? You’re right, the section on content. Even the section on media players had 28 questions.

I think this happens because most chains let their technical people work on their RFP’s. I understand this because I’m an engineer and it’s easy for me to think of many technical questions about displays and media players.  But, I don’t understand why the marketing and merchandising people don’t have more input. What you say to your customers and how you say it is much more important than the hardware specifications

Hardware is also much easier to specify and quote than content. Most people quote the development of content at an hourly rate but an hourly rate doesn’t tell you anything because you don’t know how much they can do in an hour. There are what some would call sweat shops that have low paid people that can crank out large amounts of simple content and others that have talented highly paid people that can put out incredible content but how do you quote it?

I think it is much more important to check out the work your prospective content providers have generated than to judge it on an hourly rate. I would even have them generate some sample content to compare before a decision is made.  

I have seen at least on of the top QSR chains go through the process of selecting digital menu board hardware that had all the latest capabilities and after they are installed they look exactly like the old boards because they don’t use all the capabilities properly. Why waste your time and money?  

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