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A few months ago I asked a shop owner and master technician to review an article for our website content product. The topic was “Deciphering the Menu Board”. The idea of the article is that there are many items on a menu board, and not all of them are familiar to all consumers. “What’s involved with a transmission service?” 

“Do I have a differential?” The article gives a brief description of each menu item along with some of the benefits of taking care of the work when needed.

My friend’s response was “I’m not a big fan of menu boards. I believe we are asking the customer to decide his/her needs.” I have to agree on several levels. Traditional menu boards that simply list services and prices are really only effective with customers that already know what the services are, why they are needed and when they should be done. For the rest: a static menu board does nothing to educate consumers on the benefits of the services and it certainly doesn’t motivate them to ask their service advisor about a particular service.

What would be better? I looked at the first 20 Tweets of our followers in the aftermarket to see what they do on their websites. (For the record, I did the same for our dealership followers and only found one out of the first 20 that that had any service information beyond hours and contact information.) 

So of the 20 aftermarket sites, 4 had only a listing of their services – which is the online equivalent of a traditional menu board without the prices. 16 had a description of each service and its benefits. 7 of the 16 went a step further and included videos on the service topics.

What would you get if you took all of the rich media we’ve become so accustomed to on the web and stuck it on your wall?  Answer: a Digital Menu Board.  A Digital Men Board is a focused, high-tech, digital signage solution that combines eye-popping motion graphics and 3D animations in a very attractive screen that’s customized for your business.  Each of these pieces is designed to visually tell the story of why your customer needs a particular service or product along with a call to action – all within 15 to 40 seconds.

Of course, your digital menu board can include the traditional listing of your services.  If you would like to post price comparisons with nearby competitors or give a greeting to customers with appointments, it can all be easily done via an online interface – from any computer with an internet connection.  Add a weather feed – easy.  Adding professional looking store specials and promotions – again, easy.

So, a traditional menu board listing “Differential Service - $59.99” doesn’t really do much to motivate a customer to order one up.  Contrast that with a full motion piece that uses a realistic 3D animation to show the inner workings of a differential undergoing a fluid change that explains to your customers that they have a differential, what it does, why the fluid needs to be changed and asks them to check with their service advisor – all in 38 seconds.

A great digital menu board solution comes with an extensive library of template choices, videos, animations and graphics.  It should be able to run on its own when you are busy and be powerful enough to customizable when you have time to focus on your in-store marketing efforts.

Digital menu boards attract attention and retention.  Best of all, they are a passive addition to your sales force.  We all know that perhaps the most important element of shop profitability is the number of lines on a repair order.  A digital menu board brings those additional service items to life, building awareness and motivating customers to say “Yes” to your recommendations.

A digital menu board will lend a progressive, professional look to your service counter and will provide the extra product and service education your customers need to be confident in their service decisions.

Lance Boldt is Vice President and Co-Founder of AutoNetTV.  AutoNetTV’s digital signage products deliver entertaining and educational TV programming to the lobbies of automotive service and repair businesses as well as digital menu boards and automotive website video content.