drive thru couple eating

How to make your drive thru an instant success

It’s no wonder that more brands are installing drive thru services. Aside from the obvious benefits for customer engagement in the face of COVID-19 dining restrictions, drive thru transactions are cheaper than those placed in-store.

The financial benefits can be driven further by optimising customer service and operations, but how can this be achieved?

Look the part

The layout of food sites means drive-thru lanes are usually wound around the back of the outlet. Unfortunately, this means drivers often have to pass the waste collection, unloading and delivery areas – places which are frequently untidy and unattractive.

Thankfully, this is an easily solved problem. Venues can use a staff rota to ensure that drive thru lanes are regularly checked for dirt and rubbish; assigning regular maintenance to clear weeds, sweep dirt and upkeep walls and paint. Management should hold frequent walk-throughs and use these to assess whether all of the equipment in use is in good condition and whether signage – both digital and static – is impactful and readable.

Clear drive thru signage
Ensure you have clear drive thru signage

A significant 20% of consumers say they made unplanned, impulse buys after seeing digitally advertised products – that’s just one reason it’s important for digital boards to be fully functioning. Furthermore, while customers wait in the drive lane, digital signage can be used to promote, educate and keep interest. The result is that perceived wait time is reduced by as much as 35%.

It’s not all about digital boards. Brands can also use banners and static campaign advertising to break up the monotony of long walls and divert the customer’s eye from unsightly areas.

Offer great service

With the physical side of the drive thru optimised, the next focus is customer service. A drive thru experience is cheaper than in-store because order turnover is faster and impacts less on staff time (there’s no need to clear tables or empty bins for example). However, without good training, the reverse may become true.

Staff must be given specific training for managing drive thru orders and should be made aware of expected service levels during their shift. Digital ordering technologies used in the drive thru will gather data that can be analysed to reveal the peaks and troughs in ordering volume through the day and week – that knowledge should be shared with the wider team.

When orders are taken through a microphone, don’t just let the server hear the audio – play it in the kitchen too. This will allow kitchen staff to get ahead, preparing orders before transactions are even completed.

A whole host of technologies can be installed in drive thrus to boost their effectiveness. For example, order-confirmation screens at the ordering point give customers a clear, visual summary of the items requested, plus the final cost, helping confirm that the order has been taken accurately. Other suggestions include a pre-alert loop, indicating to staff when a car has entered the drive thru. This can boost staff responsiveness and enhance the speed of service yet more.

A great alternative

Some sites simply don’t have the space to install drive thru lanes. For those companies, there is an easy way to offer a similar service but without the space requirements  – the only thing necessary is a safe parking space.

Utilising components from drive thru solutions, customers can simply drive to designated ‘Drive To’ bays, where they can order via a speaker post. Car detectors can also be used to alert staff that a customer has pulled up; they can then walk up to the vehicle window and take the customer’s order via a mobile device.

Theravada offers end-to-end digital drive-thru solutions for all food brands; get in contact to discuss what you need and how it can help in greater detail.