By Mark Lee
Well-designed menu boards can be an owner’s best friend in a restaurant that depends on prompt service and quick customer turn to support its business model.
These boards are poster-size sales tools that inform, invite and persuade customers to try a new dish or order the old standby, often with the guilt-inducing calorie count staring them in the face.
Lisken Kastalanych, vice president of marketing at Pollo Campero, a Latin fusion fast casual restaurant, says what is important to highlight on a menu is an attractive quality-to-price ratio. An operator who markets menu board items that are high on quality and moderate on price pleases customers, she says.
Compared to consumers of the past, today’s diners place a greater emphasis on value than anything else, says Kastalanych. This plays a critical part in any quick serve’s menu strategy, she says.
“I think value has been redefined,” Kastalanych says. “If [people are] going to go out and pay these days, quality is even more important, because they have fewer dollars to spend and they want to make sure they’re spending it right.”
Having multiple price points on the menu offers an opportunity to show off a desirable quality-to-price ratio, Kastalanych says. For example, when Pollo Campero debuted a modern store design and expanded menu in a store in September, the Latin chicken chain invented a menu section called Tapas & Tastings to tempt customers with a bite-sized meal for less than $4.
Once a clear menu strategy is set, the menu board itself becomes an important tool for communicating that strategy to customers. The experts say menu boards should be carefully constructed to maximize the returns on the menu strategy.
“Most guests read the board even if they have a preconceived notion of what they want to order,” says Kimberly Schwank, senior marketing manager at the Coca-Cola Company. “I can tell you that a successful menu board should incorporate five key attributes: photos, organization, readability and simplicity, use of color, and information.”
Simplicity and clarity are especially important with consumers.
A neat menu board influences the success of its core parts. In terms of organization and information, the center of the menu is a hot spot, naturally drawing in consumers’ eyes first. Placing the most popular and frequently ordered items in the hot spot ensures hungry patrons find them faster.
Choose an expert to assist you in design and production of your menu board.