Which Beer Menu Type Is Right for Me?
As many breweries, bars, brewpubs, and restaurants reopen and business owners strategize around how to successfully run their companies in a pandemic climate, finding the best way to safely and efficiently display menus has become essential.
If you’re the person making a decision about menu displays for your organization, you’re probably asking yourself several questions. Should you start or continue using paperless QR codes? Go to a digital menu board? Or switch back to paper menus? The decision you make could have huge repercussions on whether or not you attract new customers, retain loyal ones, and boost your bottom line.
For the last three months, the CPG Restaurant Group has been leveraging Untappd for Business’ QR codes and digital menus to help organize and implement drink and food menus in a safe, contactless way across their two Cheesie's Pub & Grub and Whiskey Business establishments in Chicago, IL. With over 45,000 menu views at Whiskey Business and both Cheesie’s Pub & Grub locations combined over three months, the CPG Restaurant Group reports that their experience with Untappd for Business has been overwhelmingly positive. For them, Untappd for Business QR codes have helped reduce printing costs and improve their bottom line, with whiskey sales for all of their locations increasing by a combined fifty percent.
But the PJW Restaurant Group, which operates twenty-six locations across New Jersey and Pennsylvania, has gone a different direction, using Untappd for Business software to create custom digital and print menus. In the last year and a half, they’ve racked up 300,000 menu views, almost 15,000 check-ins, and just under 10,000 unique users. However, like the CPG Restaurant Group, PJW reports that their experience with Untappd for Business has been very beneficial for a majority of its businesses.
Because businesses are unique, each of them have different needs. Below, we take a look at all three menu options available for Untappd for Business partners, along with the pros and cons of each.
QR Code Menus
What Are They? Essentially square barcodes, QR code’s are graphics that customers can scan through their device of choice (usually a smartphone) to pull up a digital menu. With Untappd for Business, QR codes are generated through the main platform through the Untappd for Business dashboard.
“By scanning a QR code, any customer with a phone can pull up an Untappd menu to see the different offerings and what's available,” says Alex Labonge, Enterprise Account Executive at Next Glass, the parent company of Untappd for Business.
- Once a QR code is generated, it never needs to be changed. “You just print off the QR code, put it on the table, and you’re good to go,” says Labonge, who has seen people get creative with how they display their QR codes. Whenever a menu item changes, you don’t need to create a new QR code for it. Instead, you simply change the menu item on your Untappd for Business dashboard.
- QR codes are designed to be contact free. Your patrons don’t need to handle or pick up print menus. Instead, they can use their own phones to view your menus online. In today's pandemic climate, safety is always a top concern. QR codes give your guests a contactless way to view your menus!
- They’re easy to use for anyone with a smartphone device. Your guest just points their camera at the code and it pops up a link that opens to your menu.
- Some people have difficulty with new technology. Especially with the older generation, the concept of scanning and relying on a phone can be challenging.
- QR codes can also have less of a personal feel. “Personally, whenever I'm socializing, I prefer not to be on my phone because I want that personal interaction,” says Labonge. “[QR codes] force customers to be on their phone, which may not be the vibe that business may be looking for.”
Overall: For businesses with a younger clientele, QR codes can be the perfect way to safely display your menus. If you have an older customer base, then QR codes may not be the best solution.
What Are They? These old-fashioned versions of a menu are printed out for customers to pick up and read at their leisure, either at their table or up front at a POS system.
- Each person can have their own menu.
- Print menus are easier to read for certain patrons who may have trouble reading on their smartphones.
- With Untappd for Business’s print menus, you get a high degree of customization. “Our support team can make custom print menus to fit with the branding of any business and what they desire,” says Labonge.
- Print menus are a great resource to train the staff. For example, some businesses create a custom cheat sheet template through Untappd for Business that they can print out and keep behind the bar. Staff can reference this sheet to educate themselves on all the beers you have on tap or new releases that went out that week. “Anything the staff can do to be better informed about their product can help them upsell,” says Labonge. “If the staff recognizes that one of your guests likes a certain light beer, they can suggest a more traditional pilsner, lager, or even hefeweizen. That might be a great way to turn a $3 beer sale into a $5 beer sale.”
- With print menus, whenever an item changes, you need to run a reprint.
- Printing costs. Especially for larger businesses that need to make many menu changes often and print off various menus, the ink and paper cost can add up.
- Safety. Because most venues only have a certain number of print menus at any given time, multiple people end up handling the same menu.
Overall: Labonge says that paper menus might be more appealing to mom-and-pop shops that don’t need to frequently change their menus. But bigger businesses or those focusing on sustainability might want to explore QR codes or digital menu boards to keep down their ink and printing budgets and to keep from wasting paper.
Digital Menu Boards
What Are They?: An included service for Untappd for Business subscribers, digital menu boards are menus displayed on TVs throughout your establishment. The only requirement to make the digital boards work is an Amazon Fire Stick that plugs into an HDMI port on the back of the screen. You also need an internet connection.
- Digital Menu Boards are hands free. No contact needed!
- Digital Menu Boards are incredibly customizable. The digital board setup runs off a URL that is generated automatically when a venue designs a digital board in Untappd for Business. “We have over twenty different templates, from horizontal to vertical, where customers can choose between four to fifty items to display on each board,” says Labonge. “You can have the boards set on one singular screen, rotate through multiple screens, or even go across multiple TVs with different beers. For example, TV A could display ten beers, TV B could display another ten beers, TV C could show food, and TV D could offer a cocktail menu.”
- Digital Menu Boards automatically update when staff make a change in the Untappd for Business mobile app or on the Untappd for Business dashboard. “The technology is very intelligent,” says Labonge. “Even if you lose your internet connection, the digital menu boards won’t fail. Instead, they’ll just cycle through the most recent update. You don’t have to completely rely on technology and the internet.”
- Digital Menu Boards are intuitive. The sizing of fonts automatically adjusts based on how many items are displayed on the screen to make them easier to read.
- Digital Menu Boards are interactive. With the digital menu boards, you can add live Untappd scrolling check-ins on the bottom. “People using the Untappd app can have friendly competitions or see what friends are drinking when they check-in,” says Labonge. “Even events from your Untappd for Business account can pop up on that screen.”
- Digital Menu Boards offer additional advertising opportunities.
- Some people may have difficulty reading on digital boards.
- For bars or breweries with a huge variety of options, there might be too much information to fit onto a television screen, even if you have a couple. “It can be paralysis by analysis,” says Labonge.
- Some people just like holding a paper menu.
- If you need to purchase a screen or screens to set up a digital menu board, you’ll have to work that into your budget.
Overall: Digital menu boards can be a great option for sports bars, establishments that have a younger to middle age audience, or those with manageable tap lists.
How do you choose?
So which menu type should you use to display your offerings? It all comes down to knowing your space and audience.
Spacewise, if you have a gigantic bar or restaurant and you only have a single tiny TV screen, then digital menu boards probably aren’t the best option. But if you’re a small beer bar looking for a safe, contactless way to display your current tap list, then digital menu boards can be great.
Of course, you have to be in tune with your clientele. Who is coming into your space?
“If you’re trying to appeal to the younger generation that’s always on their phone, just give them a QR code to make the flow seamless,” says Labonge. “But if you're appealing to a more high-end whiskey or craft beer bar where people aren’t often on their phones, we’d encourage different items.”
Knowing your brand, your audience, and what you’re trying to achieve are things to consider first and foremost when deciding which menu type is right for you.