How to Improve your QSR with Drive-Thru Digital Menu Boards

digital menu boards drive thru
digital menu boards drive thru

Digital Menu Boards Drive-Thru plays an important role in the Quick Service Restaurants (QSR). For QSR, there is nothing more useful than drive-thru services. Approximately 75% of all quick-service restaurants offer drive-thru services to their customers. Why exactly? A clear indication is that as much as 20% of all American meals are eaten in cars. This is a market you simply must tap into if you are a quick-service restaurant.


The best way to optimize drive-thru service is to improve the design and functionality of your Digital Menu Boards for Drive-Thru.

Benefits of Drive-Thru

Customers must have specific reasons for loving drive-thrus if 3/4 of all American quick-service restaurants offer this service. Here are a few of the advantages that make drive-thrus so popular:

1. Convenience

You’re coming home from a long day at work and you’re hungry. Would you rather park the car and enter the restaurant to order, pay, and receive your food, or would you prefer to do it all without leaving your car? People want quality services, but they will want them even more if the services are quick, simple, and don’t require them to step out of their cars

2. Increased Capacity in your Restaurant

If you have a small restaurant space, having a drive-thru ordering system can help you serve more customers than you could with just your indoor seating area. It increases the overall capacity of your restaurant, as customers are not limited to a certain amount of seating.  

3. Great to Avoid Agglomerations (Pandemic-Friendly)

COVID-19 has led everyone to avoid crowds, and it is important to react to this trend. Drive-thru allows you to please the customers who prefer to avoid large groups and eat in their cars or at home. At the same time, the customers that are a bit more comfortable when eating in restaurants will appreciate your efforts in keeping them safely distanced from others.

drive thru digital menu boards

Reasons Why Drive-Thru Menu Board Solution Is Important

An estimated 70 percent of sales that take place at quick-service restaurants occur in the drive-thru. You can capture another 8 percent in sales by using impactful outdoor digital menu boards.


The traditional static printed menus in a drive-thru limit QSRs from changing their menu items, prices, or promotions based on real-time market situations. It also incurs printing expenses periodically for them.


As profit margins are squeezed, competition increases, and operational costs rise, QSRs are looking for new avenues to boost revenue. Restaurateurs are discovering that the right drive-thru digital menu board solution gives them a much-needed market advantage to surpass the competition.

1. Menu Presentation

Drive-thru customers have a clear incentive: they want to receive their orders quickly. Since there will be no distractions when the customers are in the drive-thru, the customers will be focusing on the menus and the overall purchasing experience. Therefore, business owners should look into how to ensure their menu displayed in their drive-thru digital displays meet the requirements mentioned.


It is essential for business owners to make sure their outdoor menu boards can help the customers at the drive-thru decide what to order within a minute or two. Let’s be honest here: Customer experience matters. If the customers do not have the best drive-thru experience, they might not return. There are many ways to organize your menus: you can have the top-selling menu items listed in the most noticeable areas. You can also run special promotions to encourage customers’ purchase those items. On top of that, you can add branding elements to create a clear brand image and raise brand awareness. Make your drive-thru a unique experience and stand out from the competitions.

2. Marketing Solutions

Your outdoor displays for your drive-thru represent your brand and the feeling you deliver to all potential customers. As a business owner, you would want your business to be associated with forward-thinking and up-to-date with the market trend. Therefore, having eye-catching drive-thru digital screens is essential for QSR businesses.


Before Digital Signage, if a business wants to show any new promotions at their drive-thru, the manager had to send their staff to change the images with a ladder or pole. The entire process would be time-consuming. On top of that, all the changes would be restricted by the rigidity of static signs.


Digital signage that comes with content management software makes this process better. With a cloud-based system, a digital signage solution allows you to make any quick updates to adapt to your latest marketing strategy with ease. It is customizable and not limited to pre-set size parameters like panels or posters. You can promote multiple targeted offers in a captivating way to attract more customers.

3. Visually Appealing Animations

Now, as we know, improving the customer experience is where the money is at. Hence, the way your menu is presented at the drive-thru is key to driving sales. Why? An easy-to-read menu prompts quicker buying decisions, speeding up the drive-thru lane, which ultimately leads to a positive and happier customer experience.

When people want something, they want to have it as soon as they can. With menu boards being your first interaction with the consumer, it’s imperative that a simple and visually appealing menu layout not only attracts customers but also keeps them coming back in the future.


74 percent of fast-food lovers put an easy-to-read menu at the top of the priority list when heading for the drive-thru lane, according to screen giants Panasonic. Studies have shown the most effective boards are highly visual, with minimal print.


Strategic Tip – Digital menu boards can “localize” pricing efforts and display visually appealing product photos, to help guests quickly view their choices and spot exactly what they would like.

QSR drive thru lane menu

4. Design Solutions

It’s all in the design. Establishing a paradox of choice with a large number of items can make it difficult for your customers. When your customers see too many options, they will panic and overthink their order and, as a result, reduce the speed of your drive-thru service. Having fewer items gives customers more confidence in what they are ordering. Use the efficiency of images, as people are more attracted to visual depictions.


Don’t overdo the number of images though, as it will cause problems with the conventional design balance. Less is more when it comes to food imagery. Also, customers show a tendency to choose items that are on the upper right sight of the menu board, so make sure to utilize that space well.


Another thing you have to consider is the human attraction to movement. Use animations, but don’t make them too distracting. Only slight movements are recommended for the best results.


So, what’s the solution? A menu with only selected images of high-margin items, displayed with minimal yet attractive animations. You will need to use your previous sales statistics to figure out which items to place on the drive-thru menu.

5. ROI

As we know, two-thirds of QSR traffic is generated by the drive-thru. Let’s say, for example, you spend around $10K getting your indoor digital menus done right. Would you consider doubling that investment for your outdoor audience, with drive-thru being your main revenue stream anyway?


You’ve done the ROI calculation and determined that you can achieve economies of scale and a shift in revenue in a 12-month timeframe. Now, if you could spend $15-$20K (including license, installation, electricity, design costs), it would be logical to expect the same twelve-month return.


Furthermore, with a global content distribution system, organizations can achieve economies of scale from an ability to control and schedule all content electronically from a single point of control.


ROI is your endgame, so I would suggest reading this important article, which tackles 5 key points to improve ROI for drive-thru digital signage.

Just like any investment, time is of the essence. There is good news though. With change being the only constant in this tech-driven world, the cost of digital drive-thru boards is now low enough that the ROI for them is surpassing the ROI for interior digital menu boards.

6. Conditional Contextual Systems

Simply put, a conditional context system helps your QSR understand exactly what your customer is experiencing during a specific time of day, by displaying products via your digital signage according to the weather outside.


How is this possible?

Using Artificial Intelligence, your digital signage can automatically detect weather conditions, and push products and offers accordingly. Delivering “personalized” menu items, wherein customers are shown specific menus/promotions, depending on the weather outside, is an untapped QSR market with a lot of potentials. Furthermore, it improves an organizations’ flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions and displays an increased speed-to-market.

restaurant digital signage display

7. Dayparting

Dayparting is the practice of dividing a day into segments and using different forms of programming for each of those time slots. In the context of digital signage, it refers to showing the right content at the right time of day for a specific audience. For QSR, dayparting is the standard that is used throughout the industry to always show the correct menu.


You will have different customers coming in at different times. It’s essential that you prepare the DMB to show precisely what they want.


For example, morning hours should be reserved for breakfast items. During the night, and early in the morning (on weekends especially), you should promote items for those in the middle of a night out.


By offering the right menu items, you will improve your sales and overall customer retention rates. 

8. Limited-time Offers (LTOs)

Limited-time offers are similar to dayparting, except they rotate during certain periods of the year. Across the country, they have shown to be one of the main attraction factors for new customers. You can implement them for holidays only, or whole seasons.


Even if they don’t order it, customers will return for something else. When a quick-service restaurant regularly updates its menu, it’s a sign that they care about what customers want, and that each trip will offer something new.

Tips for using Digital Menu Boards in Drive Thrus

Here are some tips for you:

  • Place high-margin items in prominent locations and play on human psychology and customer habits.
  • Make sure the displays are durable and that you implement dayparting correctly. Remember – you want to do this right, not fast. There is no need for you to hurry with any additions or implementations.
  • 60% of all quick-service business is due to drive-thru DMBs, so don’t neglect it. Place additional entertaining content on screens. Good ideas are Thank You messages, stats about your brand, or new promotional videos.
To Conclude

The drive-thru customer experience is all about speed and convenience. Having the right menu and message at the right time is important for your customers to make quick and informed decisions. In the past, business owners had only two choices: Display all menu items — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — on the one menu board all day long or use two-sided menu boards that could be flipped around.  In addition, a simple price change or menu switch-out for static menu boards could also take businesses weeks to produce a new one, due to the graphic design time, approvals, printing, and shipping. Using Digital Menu Boards can solve these problems and help you maintain high levels of customer service throughout your drive-thru ordering system. Promote your products, specials, and limited-time offers with Digital Menu Boards at your drive-thru to generate more sales.

You can learn more about NexSigns Digital Signage solution and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and YouTube to get the latest info on digital signage!

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