FM asked Auburn University's senior executive chef, Emil O. Topel, to share some his experiences using digital signage.
In what parts of your operation do you use this technology?
Topel: We mostly employ our electronic signage in The Village, a state of the art building devoted to food service. It opened in August 2009 with a full retail food court and an ‘All You Care To Eat’ restaurant.
What primary purpose do they serve?
Topel: They offer us a clean, dynamic menu display system that can change as often as we need it to based on menus or specials. Also, it provides the students with some powerful visuals that coincide with events, specials and seasonal menu items.
How often does your content and menu cycle?
Topel: It depends on the outlet — most display the same menu day-to-day with a space to change a monthly special. The graphics, however, change all day long. The Greeter Board at the AYCTE unit cycles between breakfast and dinner, in each case featuring what ‘s coming up in the next meal period.
How has your digital menu board display changed since you first began using it?
Topel: : We are constantly updating it, removing menu items that are not selling, trying new things — but the initial layout we developed for most units has worked very well.
Do you think the use of digital signage is an important step forward for this industry?
Topel: : Significantly so. We have to talk to our customers in their language. If you walk around campus, you'll find that every student has an iPod, cell phone and laptop in their backpack. Our customers want their information quickly and visually. Digital menu boards let you accomplish that.