Long John Silver's woos 'em at the drive-thru with 'do-it-all' menu boards

| by Elliot Maras
Long John Silver's woos 'em at the drive-thru with 'do-it-all' menu boards

Long John Silver's new menu boards improve the customer's and restaurant's experience. Photo courtesy of Elite Manufacturing Technologies, Inc.

With more than half of its business funneling in through the drive-thru, Long John Silver's brand revitalization program made this channel a top priority, culminating in new outdoor menu boards designed to knock drivers' socks right off the floorboards. The roll-up interactive drive-through menu boards fill drivers' vision with three 55-inch, high-def video screens and built-in high-def audio. The result? Optimum customer interaction and brand engagement without ever setting footing inside the restaurant itself. 

"We have seen a noticeable increase in food and beverage sales since the installation of the new menu boards," Long John Silver's Senior Manager of Merchandising and Menu Boards Chris Fuller, said. "And we can tell that our customers are really enjoying the ease of ordering and the overall display."

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 and microphone box —items that previously have not been coupled with outdoor digital menu boards, said Chuck Lewis, director of business development for digital solutions at Elite Manufacturing Technologies, Inc., which created the menu boards.

Instead, outdoor menu boards are usually equipped with speakers mounted on separate pedestals. By incorporating the speaker and microphone into the menu board itself, customers enjoy a heightened level of interactivity more commonly found in self-order kiosks, where customers can order without averting their focus from the menu board itself. Customers also receive order confirmation at the menu board's lower right corner. 

"It's all built into the digital menu board, which is really slick," Lewis said.

Brighter, better sound, improved troubleshooting

These are also ultra-high brightness displays at 3500 nit for each of the three 55-inch panels, which Lewis said has not previously been executed in this particular vertical market until now.

"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."

Employees use new headsets that enhance audio to improve order accuracy, while sub-pavement loop detectors b near the menu board automatically activate timers, allowing employees to know how long a car is at the menu board, Northrup said.

The platform also provides management reports. For instance, management can review orders that take longer than average foor possible causes. 

"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."

Northrup and Lewis said that they believe this is the largest outdoor digital menu board rollout to date. Likewise, they said some chains also have small digital screens on their menu boards for order confirmation, but most of the menu board is static, Lewis said. In order to change the menu, someone has to physically change the board.

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.


An earlier version of this story appeared on sister site, Kiosk Marketplace. 

Feature photo: iStock

Inset photo: Elite Manufacturing Technologies, Inc. 

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Curbside, Customer Service / Experience, Display Technology, Drive In, Drive-thru, Drive-thru Audio / Timers, Drive-thru Menu / OCB, Equipment & Supplies, Marketing / Branding / Promotion, Menu Boards, Operations Management, Seafood, Systems / Technology

Elliot Maras

Elliot Maras is the editor of KioskMarketplace.com and FoodTruckOperator.com.

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