Recognizing the importance of the outdoor drive-thru to its overall business, Long John Silver's has added high-definition video screens and audio to its drive-thru menu boards as part of a 2-year brand revitalization program. The new menu boards have three 55-inch, high-definition video screens with a high-definition, built-in audio component, bringing a new level of interactivity to outdoor menu boards.
"We have seen a noticeable increase in food and beverage sales since the installation of the new menu boards," Chris Fuller, Long John Silver's senior manager of merchandising and menu boards, told Kiosk Marketplace. "And we can tell that our customers are really enjoying the ease of ordering and the overall display."
Improving the drive-thru experience is important, considering more than half the company's sales come from drive-thru, James O'Reilly, Long John Silver's CEO, said in a press release.
Digital order confirmation
The menu board platform, provided by Allure, a division of Christie Digital Systems USA, enables digital order confirmation and full-color, high-resolution animation, video and graphics. The system allows for updates of menus and promotions. Promoted specials can be linked to historical sales trends, special events and local weather forecasts.
The menu boards have an attached, speaker/microphone box which has never been coupled with outdoor digital menu boards, said Chuck Lewis, director of business development for digital solutions at Elite Manufacturing Technologies, Inc., which manufactured and designed the menu boards. Where outdoor menu boards typically have a speaker on a separate pedestal for customers to give orders, the speaker/microphone box is attached to the menu board, bringing a level of customer interactivity more commonly found in self-order kiosks.
The new system eliminates the need for a separate order screen for customers to place orders while looking at the menu board. Instead, the customer gives their order at the menu board. The customer then confirms their order, and the order confirmation then shows up at the bottom right of the menu board.
"It's all built into the digital menu board, which is really slick," Lewis said.
The brightest displays
The menu board also features three 3500-nit, 55-inch displays that have never been seen in this vertical before, Lewis said.
"When they put motion and movement to high ticket items, they find from marketing that they're able to sell more of those items because there's movement that draws your eyes to it," he said.
The menu board also allows the restaurant to highlight certain items at certain times of the day.
"On the fly, you can hang calorie counts, you can add or subtract pricing, or change pricing to specific menu items," said Chris Northrup, vice president of digital media and network strategies for USSI, which handles the installation for the project. "All that's done with a couple of key swipes." This is more efficient and effective than having an employee change information manually.
"In the afternoon, they might want to highlight some drinks or some snack type items that might be a little quicker for people to get," Northrup said. "You're able to do all that digitally."
A new headset for order taking makes it easier for employees to hear orders and improve order accuracy, and loop detectors beneath the pavement near the menu board automatically activate timers that allow the employees to know how long a car is at the menu board, Northrup said.
The platform also provides management reports. If an order takes longer than average, for example, management can review the order to determine what might have caused the extra time. If certain orders are taking longer, the staff can see what items might be causing this.
"You can look at what your average ticket is per car, you can look at your throughput a lot better than you could before," Northrup said. "The payback is tremendous."
A pioneering rollout
Northrup and Lewis agreed this is the largest outdoor digital menu board rollout.
"At this point today, this is the biggest," Lewis said. Other chains have installed smaller numbers of outdoor digital menu boards.
Some chains also have small digital screens on their menu boards for order confirmation, Lewis said, but most of the menu board is static. In order to change the menu, someone has to physically change the board.
Outdoor menu boards continue to play an important role for many QSRs. Long John Silver's has recognized that high-definition video screens and audio streamline the order experience for both the customer and the restaurant.
Wanna hear more? James O'Reilly, Long John Silver's CEO, will share more information during a session at the Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit, April 9-11. Registration is open.
Elliot Maras Elliot Maras is the editor of KioskMarketplace.com and FoodTruckOperator.com.