Do-it-Yourself Digital Display Board

Feb. 2, 2016
Chris Cloutier programmed his own digital display board at Golden Rule Auto Care

What It Is: A digital display board that can be programmed to show customers anything the shop chooses.

The Inspiration: Chris Cloutier, owner of Golden Rule Auto Care, doesn’t like clutter. He’s never been a fan of paper everywhere or displaying deals and accomplishments on posters throughout his shop. So, when he began noticing digital display boards in nearly every business he’d walk into, it made perfect sense to install one in his shop. Instead of purchasing one, though, Cloutier, a self-described “computer guy,” took matters into his own hands.

What It Does: The digital display board, which is mounted in Golden Rule Auto Care’s lobby, does a number of different things for the shop. Cloutier’s board displays anything he programs it to, including online comments from customers, PDFs of charity events, the company’s website and deals at the shop, such as state inspections or headlight-cleaning specials. A feature that Cloutier enjoys using is Virtual Vehicle MD, a system that visually displays for customers what is going on with their car. For example, if a vehicle’s belt breaks and the customer doesn’t quite understand what that means, Virtual Vehicle MD can be pulled up on the screen and the customer can see a video demonstration.

How It’s Made: First, a small and easy-to-store computer that can be dedicated solely for the purpose of a digital display board needs to be ordered. A wireless, mini-computer that can be accessed anywhere from the shop is optimal. After experimenting with a few different types, Cloutier suggests the ASUS VivoPC-VM40B-02 desktop. The computer is reasonably priced and comes with an HDMI port and VGA port. If the computer does not already have a wireless keyboard and mouse, one should be purchased. The next step is finding a flat screen TV with HDTV for the display. The flat screen should be mounted with brackets in the desired location and once the computer is connected and hooked up, download the Mozilla Firefox browser and one of these add-ons: or

Once that is done, each tab can be loaded with web content. At his shop, Cloutier chose to display the shop’s website, the “read only” view of (a customer communication and visual workflow program), Yelp, Google Plus and Facebook, as well as occasional services to push.

The Cost: The total cost was around $600. The process of putting everything together took roughly two days.

The ROI: “A million dollars,” Cloutier joked, before adding: “It’s hard to tell how many more deals I’ve closed, how many headlight cleanings I’ve done or state inspections I’ve performed because of this, but at least a couple of times a week I hear from a customer, ‘I didn’t know you did that,’ and many jobs have been sold through the visual we’re able to show on Virtual Vehicle MD.”

Cloutier estimates that he gets at least an extra headlight cleaning and state inspection each week from the digital display board. That would amount to an extra $50 for the shop a week and at least $2,500 per year of additional revenue.