Drive Thru Management- 12 Ways to Improve Quality & Speed

Mary Kate Morrow12/9/2020

From Taco Bell to Burger King to Chick Fil A, there are many quick service restaurants for drive thru customers to choose from.

In order to stay successful with so much competition, fast food restaurants must find a way to offer quality food products paired with great customer service and rapid service speed.

7 Ways to Improve Drive Thru Times

A recent Chick Fil A study found that about 50% of millennial parents would rather skip eating altogether than wait in a long line with their children. Considering this shocking statistic, fast food businesses should prioritize service speed optimization, especially for drive thru diners on the go.

7 methods to decrease drive thru times include-

1. Digital Signage

Digital signage is often the first point of interaction for drive thru customers when ordering fast food. As such, businesses must make sure digital menu boards and confirmation boards are in good condition and clearly readable.

If a confirmation or digital menu board is outdated, difficult to read, or vandalized, it should be promptly replaced. Accessible and clear digital signage will decrease wait times while increasing the likelihood of a customer returning.

2. Online Ordering Capabilities

Online ordering through a mobile device or computer can significantly decrease wait times while improving the overall customer experience. Services like Order Pay provide customers with mobile ordering capabilities including order confirmation prompts and real time updates.

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3. POS Compatibility

The ability to sync a third party online ordering tool with the restaurant POS system increases efficiency by avoiding the need for an employee to manually reenter information. Order accuracy is also improved when the customer's online order is sent directly to the restaurant POS system, bypassing potential employee errors.

4. Updated Menus

Digital menu boards should be updated to display certain menu items at different points in the day. For example, if a quick service restaurant stops selling breakfast at 10 a.m., those menu items can be removed from the digital menu board before the lunch rush.

Decreasing the number of listed menu items can reduce the time a customer spends on deciding what to order while suggestive selling initiatives can increase up selling potential.

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5. Order Confirmation

Order confirmation boards verify order accuracy instantly to prevent elongated service times resulting from amending incorrect orders.

6. Separate Drive Thrus

If a business has the ability and resources necessary, they should designate separate drive thrus for online orders. As customers pass swiftly through the online and mobile ordering drive thru, traditional drive thru customers may be motivated to try alternative ordering channels to reduce their wait times.

7. Hybrid Drive Thru

Particularly if a restaurant does not have dual drive thru capabilities, assigning an employee to walk out and take orders in the drive thru can decrease wait times considerably. Integrating a handheld tablet with the restaurant's POS system will allow orders to be prepared before a customer even reaches the initial menu board.

4 Ways to Increase Drive Thru Quality

Drive thru customers want more than just high-speed service, they also want high quality food products. 4 ways to increase food quality while maintaining quick service speeds include-

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1. Verbal Confirmation

Employees should verbally confirm an order at two separate points in the drive thru process. First, the order should be repeated back to a customer immediately after it is taken in front of the menu board.

Second, an employee should reconfirm the order at the drive thru window before the customer accepts the food. The second confirmation decreases the likelihood of a customer driving off with an incorrect order which would negatively affect customer satisfaction rates and potentially increase wait times for other drive thru diners.

2. Quality Checks

It does not matter how optimal a drive thru service time is if the food provided to a customer is of low quality or incorrect. If an unsatisfied customer needs to visit the drive thru for a second time, all drive thru customers present are also negatively affected.

To avoid this situation, management should make sure employees double check that all menu items were prepared properly before they are handed off to the customer.

3. Inventory Management

Improperly managed inventory can result in certain menu items being unavailable which in turn decreases customer satisfaction levels. Alternatively, if ingredients are not stocked correctly, a customer may be greeted with an incorrect condiment or ingredient that could ruin their entire meal.

A best practice to keep inventory items properly stocked is to invest in and implement inventory management software that can integrate with existing POS systems, enabling management to track all ingredient usage in real-time with every sale and purchase order.

4. Set Standards

Large fast food restaurant chains like Burger King and Taco Bell generally have set standards in place regarding specifics such as condiments and utensils. Smaller fast food businesses should also maintain a universal customer experience by setting standards in accordance with customer demands.

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Key Takeaways

  • The restaurant industry contains a wide variety of fast food establishments for customers to choose from. In order to gain a competitive advantage, fast food restaurants need to quickly provide both great customer service and high-quality food items to their customers.

  • Methods to decrease drive thru wait times range from updating digital signage to implementing online ordering capabilities.

  • Ways to increase drive thru food quality include providing multiple verbal confirmations and regularly performing quality checks.