The quick-service restaurant industry was one of the few that weathered the pandemic and came out stronger. According to the NPD Group, a marketing research firm, 70 percent of all dollars spent eating out in the year ending March 2021 were at quick-service restaurants.

One reason is that quick-service brands were able to continue operating drive thrus during the pandemic even when their dining rooms closed. Yet the secret ingredient was their use of digital reader boards to keep customers apprised in real time as operations changed.

Now that we are in a post-pandemic phase of COVID-19, digital reader boards will play an even bigger role in helping quick-service restaurants succeed in a changing environment. Here are some of the top trends we are seeing and how digital reader boards can help restaurants keep customers informed:

Contactless ordering: A recent report showed that 60 percent of quick-service customers now prefer to place their orders online or using a kiosk instead of ordering through a staff member. Digital reader boards located outside and inside a restaurant can help facilitate this by keeping menus current and guiding customers to online ordering and menus via a QR code.

Supply chain shortages: A survey by the National Restaurant Association showed that 96 percent of restaurant operators experienced supply delays or shortages last fall, and that has become a bigger issue this year. Digital reader boards help restaurants advertise menu items that are in stock, quickly change menus when shortages occur, and guide customers to limited-time offers and higher profit margin items.

Fewer tables for in-person dining: Many restaurants are continuing to promote social distancing by offering fewer tables for in-person dining. During busy times, digital reader boards can encourage the use of drive thrus to prevent over-crowding inside the restaurant.

Labor shortages: Like most businesses, quick-service brands are struggling to hire enough workers. Digital reader boards can be effective in communicating current open positions, starting pay, and benefits that set restaurants apart from their competitors. They also can promote QR codes or websites for online applications.

Community support: As valuable community members, restaurants are known for their support of local causes. Digital reader boards allow quick-service brands to demonstrate their community involvement by promoting local events and highlighting charitable efforts. For example, DQ uses digital reader boards to highlight its involvement with Children’s Miracle Network by elevating Miracle Treat Day.

Finally, customer loyalty continues to play an important role in the success of quick-service restaurants. Digital reader boards help build loyalty by allowing managers to rapidly communicate updates to customers. From item shortages to drive-thru-only service, things can change quickly. Digital reader boards help manage customer expectations and keep loyal fans.

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