Digital menu boards have revolutionized the way restaurants and cafes display their menus and promote specials. These dynamic displays not only enhance the customer experience but also provide a modern and efficient way to manage menu items. However, understanding the costs involved in implementing these systems is crucial for any business considering an upgrade.
Initial Costs of Digital Menu Boards
When it comes to setting up digital menu boards, there are several key components to consider.
The hardware primarily includes the screens and any necessary mounting hardware. The cost can vary greatly depending on the size, quality, and number of screens required. For instance, a two-screen digital menu board system’s hardware cost starts around $1,600. However, if you’re a DIY type person, you can buy a TV at your local big box store, connect a USB drive with a JPEG of your menu, and your cost could be around $200-400 per screen.
Screen Quality and Resolution: Higher quality screens with better resolution are more expensive. Commercial-grade screens are generally brighter and will improve menu visibility. Screen brightness is measured in nits and as a general rule, 350-450 is where you want to be for digital menus.
Depending on the complexity, software for digital menu boards can range from basic to advanced, affecting the overall cost. Most of the popular offerings show an advertised price of $20 – $80 per screen. A key feature is to have a web-based content management system where you can create and edit content.
Installation and Setup
Professional installation and initial setup can add to the upfront costs, ensuring the system works seamlessly. The complexity of the design and installation determines installation costs. These include the cost of any mounting hardware, wiring, or other necessary components.
Maintenance and Upgrades
Regular maintenance and software upgrades are necessary to keep the system running efficiently. Maintenance costs include software updates, hardware repair or replacement due to natural wear and tear or any other damage.
The cost of designing and updating the menu content, whether done in-house or outsourced, should be considered. The pricing for designing a digital menu board varies based on factors such as complexity and scope of the project, but it can range from $200-1,000 or more.
Additional Factors Affecting Cost
Wi-Fi or hardwired options can influence the cost.
Adding touch screen capabilities or integration with ordering systems can increase the price. For example, interactive self-ordering kiosks can range from $3,000 to $10,000 per unit.
The cost of digital menu boards can vary greatly, depending on the type of display, hardware, and content management system used. However, digital menu boards are often more cost-effective in the long run compared to other forms of in-store marketing. They can be updated in real-time and can last for several years with proper maintenance, making them a more cost-effective option in the long run.
Budgeting for Digital Menu Boards
Budgeting for digital menu boards involves considering both initial and ongoing costs. These costs can vary widely depending on several factors, including the number of screens, type of hardware, installation expenses, and software requirements.
Initial and Ongoing Costs
- Hardware Expenses: The cost of screens can range from $400 to $2,500, with premium screens costing between $3,000–$5,000.
- Software Solutions: The ongoing cost for software can be as low as $10 per month. Some boards may even come with software included, dependent on an upfront fee at the time of purchase.
- Content Creation: Creating visually captivating and appealing content is crucial to attracting customers and increasing sales with digital menu boards. This requires careful budgeting for content creation, including analyzing the specific types of content needed and determining the most cost-effective approach, whether it’s in-house or outsourced.
Comparing Vendors and Quotes
When comparing vendors, it’s important to get quotes from multiple vendors to find the best deal that fits your requirements and budget. You should also consider any potential discounts for multi-location installations.
Evaluate the long-term benefits of digital menu boards, such as increased efficiency, improved customer experience, and potential sales boost, against the initial and ongoing costs. For instance, 82% of restaurant business owners who use digital signage for displaying product information reported increased sales and 77% experienced better customer satisfaction.
Leasing vs. Purchasing Options
The decision to lease or purchase equipment will depend on your specific business needs and budget. Leasing equipment could offer lower upfront costs, making it a more feasible option for some businesses.
Scalability and Growth
Starting with a basic setup and scaling up as the business grows or as budget allows can be a cost-effective approach.
Budgeting for digital menu boards requires a comprehensive understanding of both initial and ongoing expenses. By considering the factors mentioned above, you can make an informed decision that maximizes your return on investment.
Digital menu boards are a significant investment, but with careful planning and consideration of the various cost factors, they can offer substantial returns in terms of operational efficiency and customer engagement. By understanding the full scope of expenses and exploring different options, businesses can implement this technology effectively, keeping within their budget constraints.