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Johnny Rockets’ checklist for switching to digital menu boards

3 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

Johnny Rockets restaurants hark back to slower times when there was less technology, but the chain recently announced that it will be updating its smaller locations with digital menu boards. To find out what goes into planning and executing this technology, I asked Johnny Rockets Director of Brand Marketing Chad Bailey.

How did you decide that digital menu boards would fit with your brand?

Johnny Rockets is a timeless atmosphere with great food, high-energy fun and rockin’ tunes. Therefore, the bright, vibrant, high-energy feeling that digital boards provide accurately captures the energy of our brand and better merchandises our classic food selection. At Johnny Rockets, we have a scalable restaurant format with different-size footprints and service models. Many of our smaller restaurants, near food courts, in airports and downtown business settings, have a fast-casual style service and use static menu boards to communicate their food offerings. As we continue to expand as a chain and evolve, those type of locations demand a more vibrant, engaging and easily readable solution for our guests. In conjunction with being competitive in this environment, digital menu board solutions have come a long way to become more financially feasible, easily updateable, and instantly integrated with pricing and nutritional requirements, allowing for a better all-around business solution. We are currently in the process of developing our new digital menu board solution. We don’t have our new solution inside any of our restaurants at this time, but look forward to [it] soon.

What questions should restaurant companies ask themselves before implementing digital menu board technology?

Restaurants should think about the following questions when considering a digital menu board solution:

  • What is my service model? What percentage of my sales are to-go or take-out?
  • Does this improve the guest experience?
  • Will digital menu boards simplify and better communicate my offerings?
  • Can I drive better profitability and sales through a dynamic layout and design?
  • Does it make financial sense given my sales projections?
  • Will this increase my labor or decrease my labor?
  • What happens if a digital menu board stops working? What is the redundancy system?
  • What is the support and service model when things go wrong?
  • Do I have a software solution that can easily integrate with my POS software?
  • How easily updateable and flexible is my software solution? What are the costs for updating?
  • Do I have an experienced digital signage partner that can help me through the process?

How do you plan to roll out the digital menu board technology to your franchisees?

We integrate our franchise partners into all of our company initiatives and seek their input before making final decisions. Therefore, with pre-existing buy-in from my top franchise leaders, we plan for a smooth and seamless rollout into the appropriate restaurants.

What kind of training and management is involved?

We have designed our solution to be turnkey and simplistic for our operators, as well as easily managed as a global system. A majority of the management with be done at our Restaurant Support Center, but franchise partners will also have the option to modify and select different templates given their business patterns and regional objectives.

What is your advice to other restaurants that are exploring a shift to digital menu boards or upgrading their current technology?

My advice would be to thoroughly evaluate the different digital signage partners and software on the market. There are drastic differences in many of the systems and companies. Technology should make things simpler, and the last thing that anyone wants is a hard-to-manage, difficult-to-operate, inflexible solution.

Image courtesy of Johnny Rockets