Quick-service brands are spending big on digital marketing tools. But what about roadside signage?

Over the past year and a half, quick-service brands have invested a great deal of resources into digital marketing tools. Why then, asks David Watson, director of corporate programs at Watchfire Signs, do some of those same restaurants still have plastic reader boards out in front of their restaurants?

“Why try to attract a modern customer’s attention by using a communication tool that has been around since the 1970s?” Watson says. “Some brands are still allowing an employee with a box of letters and a plastic reader board to deliver a brand’s message. It’s so ineffective and can so easily be replaced by a digital technology with a very real ROI attached to it.”

Watson says his operator customers report between a 3-to-15 percent revenue increase after Watchfire Signs digital signage is installed. In addition to that ROI, here are three reasons why some of the industry’s leading brands are ditching their plastic reader boards in favor of digital signage.


There’s no practical way to daypart messaging on a plastic reader board—operators have limited letters and are forced to choose just one thing to promote at a time. Watchfire Signs provides its clients with the company’s Ignite content management software platform that helps display digital content on one sign or hundreds of signs at once. To ensure things like regional or store-specific promotions are accurate, the software can update just one or some of the boards, or every board brand-wide with the click of a button.

“You don’t want to be promoting an ice cream product at 7 a.m.,” Watson says. “You want your dayparts to be consistent and effective. But digital signage can also play content in loops to help show multiple items at a time.”

Now Hiring

Of the challenges facing the industry, labor is always top of mind, and that has never been more true than over the past few months as diners return to restaurants but workers stay at home.

“How much money is your brand spending on employee acquisition these days?” Watson asks. “The first thing many of our customers want to do with the sign is promote that they are hiring and to message that it’s a great place to work. We have numbers that show the sign pays for itself in a year’s time by helping brands find a larger pool of employees.”

Superior Marketing

Digital signage is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach potential customers who are right outside of a restaurant. Watson estimates that, on average, it costs brands about $0.74 to use digital signs to reach 1,000 drivers in the area, which is a fraction of what television or radio advertising costs.

“Think about what passerby might think of your business if you have a plastic reader board with letters falling off,” Watson says. “With all the money being invested in marketing, here is a cost efficient way to reach your audience and drive traffic to your location in an engaging way that makes your store look much more appealing and welcoming.” 

For more on the ROI of digital signs, visit watchfiresigns.com.

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