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    Rules of the Road for Effective Menuboards

    An optimized menuboard can be a c-store's most powerful sales tool.

    By Tom Cook, King-Casey

    The menuboard is a convenience store’s most powerful sales tool when it comes to foodservice. A menuboard that has been optimized and strategically designed gets customers to spend more.

    An optimized menuboard can shave precious seconds off the customer’s order time, resulting in increased throughput. It can also result in an improved customer experience and increased customer loyalty. This is particularly important since c-store foodservice sales are expected to cool off somewhat in 2017. That being the case, an optimized menuboard can help your brand counter this.

    There are seven "Rules of the Road" that collectively result in best-practice menuboard design. These are proven strategies and tactics for achieving meaningful and measurable business results.

    Rule 1: Focus on "Hot Spots"

    Years of research has revealed consumers tend to look at certain spots of the menuboard first and more frequently. These are the menuboard’s "Hot Spots." Utilize these to increase sales and speed throughput.

    Identify where the "Hot Spots" are on your menuboard — they vary based on your customer flow and order process. This can be done through eye-tracking science and behavioral research. Are your best-selling, highest-margin offerings taking advantage of the "Hot Spots?" Reposition menu items with this in mind to increase sales of high-priority products.

    Rule 2: Space to Sales

    Your best-selling, highest-margin items need to be given more menuboard real estate than low-selling items. This will give them greater impact and help customers readily find these business-driver menu items and, in turn, speed throughput while increasing desirable sales.

    The key is the optimum allocation of menuboard space based on a thorough analysis of your sales and profit data for each item on your menuboard.

    Rule 3: Category & Item Placement

    All convenience store chains track their food and beverage sales, but it is surprising how few use this data as input to strategic menuboard design. After all, some of your menu items are much better sellers than others. Some contribute more to your bottom line.

    First, it is necessary to understand where your highest sales and profits are coming from. Utilize this data to determine where to place and how to prioritize categories and items on your menuboard. It will also help identify which items should be eliminated from your menuboard to free up space for new items, or to devote more space to those items driving the business.

    Rule 4: Launch & Core

    Launch and Core is a key strategy for effective, ongoing menuboard management. It is a strategy for dealing with the continuous changes to menuboard content.

    Launch and Core involves establishing a strategic framework that takes the guesswork out of how to handle your core menu, limited-time offers (LTO) and new products on your menuboard.

    Rule 5: Know Your Customers

    Understanding your customers’ needs, attitudes and behavior surrounding the order process is critical. Knowing the logics they apply and the process they follow during the order process will help you optimize your menuboard layout, design and communications.

    Rule 6: Brand It

    Branding your menuboard is often overlooked and is a missed opportunity. Many brands do little to integrate their brand positioning and identity into their menuboard design.

    Integrating key branding elements and nomenclature into your menuboard design will help communicate the proprietary attributes and nature of your food and beverage items.

    Rule 7: Measure & Test

    It is vitally important to measure the success of your menuboard-optimization efforts relative to key performance indicators and evaluation criteria. These include: sales, average check and margin increases, improved order times, greater throughput, and customer satisfaction.

    Make sure what you have come up with resonates with your customers. Conduct quantitative and/or qualitative research among your customers and lapsed customers to evaluate and validate your optimized menuboard design. See what is working and what needs to be reworked based on their feedback.

    Finally, it is important to remember that no element of the in-store marketing mix is as overlooked or as underestimated in its ability to increase sales and return on investment as your menuboard. Optimize it utilizing these proven "Rules of the Road" and you will see the benefits in terms of improved business results.

    Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

    By Tom Cook, King-Casey
    • About Tom Cook Tom Cook is principal of King-Casey, where his primary responsibility is to oversee and direct the strategic and operations management of the retail consulting and design firm. This entails King-Casey’s core business processes: client service delivery, client business development, design and implementation delivery, new service development, and new business development. Cook’s expertise in branding, marketing and strategic retail design spans a broad range of clients and industries.

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