Since the fourth McDonalds in Danvers opened in November, sales of everything from McMuffins to Big Macs have been so low that management is looking for new ways to increase it.
One idea? Move the sign closer to the street and add a message board.
The plans were first presented to the Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday night during a meeting at the Senior Center. Board members said they want to see firsthand where the sign will go and how high it will be and have put off a final decision until they see the exact sign location "staked out" at the Endicott Street restaurant.
The newest McDonalds in Danvers - the fourth in town - opened in November.
When new McDonalds restaurants open, sales are usually high and then settle close to the company's projections. But that is not happening at the Endicott restaurant, said John Kucich, an engineer who presented the sign design to the Zoning Board.
"The sales for this restaurant are significantly below what was projected for this site," Kucich said.
McDonalds does a "very sophisticated" study that develop a sales prediction for each store based on demographics, traffic, competition and other factors.
"This one is not even close," he said.
Kucich noted that signs for other fast food restaurants along Endicott Street - Burger King, Taco Bell and Wendy's - all sit closer to the road.
"We're set back about 50 feet behind them," he said, later telling the board: "Being an impulse business, signage is king."
John Boughner, chairman of the Zoning Board, said he hoped to have any new sign be set back the same distance as other signs along the road. That will avoid other fast food restaurants coming in and asking to move its sign closer to the road.
Kucich said the sign would go in an existing parking space and moving it back would put it in a driving lane in the parking lot.
Board member Robert Cignetti also said he was not convinced a new sign would increase business and noted that there is a McDonalds in the food court at Liberty Tree Mall across the street.
"You're competing against yourself, so to speak," he said.
Boughner also noted there is one on High Street. The fourth location in Danvers is on Andover Street (Route 114).
Adam Guilmette, from McDonalds corporate office, said company officials are investigating other possible reasons for the slumping sales, including the building's distance from the street and the vehicle circulation on the property.
McDonalds does not wants to make the sign any bigger and does not want to add any new signs to the property - it received approval last March for seven signs on the site.
Instead, it has come up with a completely new design that it wants to put it closer the street. Right now, the sign is a yellow M on a pylon. Instead, it wants to build a "monument" style sign that includes a M on a red background on one side and a message area on the other side.
"We believe this will give us better visibility along the streetfront," Kucich said.
The new sign will be shorter - 12 feet - than the existing sign because it will go into the right-of-way for high tension wires that pass over a corner of the property.
The new Taco Bell sign does not include any message on it, noted board member Robert Pariseau, and said he is not convinced that the variable message on the board will increase business. He said he would rather see the M logo sign.
In addition to seeing in-person exactly where the sign will go, the board also wants to know exactly how many lines of text - and the size of the font - for the message portion of the sign.
The board next meets at Town Hall on Feb. 25.