Sponsored by NEC
The menu board is perhaps the most important customer-facing component of any quick-service or fast-casual restaurant. It’s a marketing vehicle which connects customers to the venue’s offerings, and it needs to support the restaurant’s mission to drive sales and profitability.
Digital display boards specifically engineered for front-of-the-house foodservice applications help operators to achieve these goals. They provide a dynamic, cost-effective alternative to both static solutions and to digital screens designed for another purpose.
“The initial investment is higher, but eventually the return on investment is better,” says Ben Hardy, product manager at NEC Display Solutions, which makes a wide variety of digital display screens for the restaurant industry.
Commercial digital display screens in the front-of-the-house offer operators the flexibility to change content on the fly, create sales-driving displays and enhance the customer experience.
The following benefits further support the use of commercial digital display screens as a high-impact addition to the front-of-the-house:
Commercial screens such as those from NEC are superior to screens designed for home use, such as flat-screen TVs sold at retail, because they are built to withstand the conditions inside restaurants, according to Hardy. Consumer TVs can become a safety hazard in a restaurant environment because the oily particulates released into the air from cooking can damage the chassis of the TV, which could cause the chassis to fail, he says.
NEC’s display screens incorporate a more rugged, full-metal chassis that secures firmly to the attachment points for mounting.
Commercial digital display screens include anti-reflective layers that scatter incidental light rather than reflect it back to the onlooker. This allows for clarity of the on-screen content in higher ambient light situations. Typical televisions do not have these layers built into their panels and external light could then take away from the intended image on the screen.
“It allows you to see the content on the screen from any angle,” says Hardy.
Commercial screens also allow operators to calibrate colors to match their corporate hues exactly, so that branding and marketing content reflect the intention of its creators. This also facilitates the accurate representation of food images.
• Back-up sourcing
NEC display screens offer a secondary sourcing solution in the event that one source which is supplying content to a screen, such as a PC, fails for some reason. Many NEC screens allow operators to plug in a USB with back-up content that would automatically take over if a primary source goes down.
“The screen is smart enough to say, ‘This source is down; I need to switch to this other source instead,’” says Hardy. “You could have zero downtime.”
NEC screens include a scheduling function which allows users to program up to 30 different schedules, so that screens can be programmed to go dark when the restaurant is closed, for example. In addition, operators can create more complicated schedules which allow content to change with each day of the week or at different times of the day.
• Warranty coverage
While the initial investment for a commercial digital screen might be higher than for alternative solutions, that investment is protected by a warranty. NEC provides a three-year commercial warranty that can be upgraded to a five-year plan and a 5-year out of the box plan for their highest level professional P series.
TV screens designed for residential use might come with a one-year warranty, but those are often greatly reduced or voided altogether if the device is used in a commercial setting, according to Hardy.
• Dedicated to commercial use
NEC is the only top-tier supplier of digital screens dedicated to building products solely for commercial use. That means components intended for consumer use will never end up in an NEC product.
“Everything we use is built to last,” says Hardy. “That’s what we live by.”
NEC also works closely with auxiliary service providers, such as installers and content management software companies, to provide comprehensive solutions.
NEC products for restaurant operators run the gamut from small-format desktop monitors to projectors to video walls, as well as traditional menu boards, such as its popular C Series, V Series and P Series. Because of the wide variety of products it offers and its relationships with support providers, NEC can be an operator’s single point of contact for all of the display screen needs in the restaurant.
“When you think about the cost savings throughout the three- to five-year lifespan, if not more, you will make back your investment very, very quickly,” says Hardy. “Think about how many different things are on the menu, and how often that menu changes throughout the year.”
Digital displays, engineered for foodservice, can provide a critical component of your restaurant’s front-of-the-house strategy that keeps you a step ahead of the competition and makes sense for the bottom line.