Ordering | October 2011 | By Daniel P. Smith

100 Ways to Improve Your Drive Thru

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Operations

76 Instead of reading the entire order to the customer, only ask them to confirm their order on the screen. This spurs faster service.

77 In the absence of an order-confirmation screen, repeat the order to the customer at the order post to ensure accuracy.

78 Immediately after confirming the order with the customer, provide the full total denoting dollars and cents.

79 Provide the next step. Sometimes a second window is open to collect payment; sometimes it is not. Clearly direct the customer to the next step.

80 When handing the order to the customer, review the order with confidence.

81 Customers respond favorably to outside order takers, a more personal system that serves as a line-busting technique during peak hours.

82 If there is an opportunity to get an order into the kitchen sooner, take it. The move will deliver the speed drive-thru customers crave.

83 Streamline the drive-thru process into three parts: greeting and order; money exchange, receipt, and condiments; and, finally, food delivery.

84 Combo meals are a great way to order in one step and heighten the value perception. Place them side-by-side in a prominent spot on the menuboard.

85 If breakfast is over, switch the drive-thru signage to the lunch and dinner menu. If cheeseburgers are not available before 10 a.m., hide that piece of the menu. Rotating the menu signage ensures a crisp look and allows the customer to focus on the available offerings.

86 Double up on staff and even key equipment, such as the soda fountain and register, to ensure swift service during peak times.

87 On-the-go, multitasking drive-thru consumers want packaging that keeps food safe and contained. Identify packaging that protects the product and the customer’s lap.

88 Customers are on to your attempts to keep drive-thru times down. If their order takes longer than expected, send them to designated drive-thru parking spots and offer a free beverage instead of having them simply pull forward and wait.

89 Participants in a 2010 QSR drive-thru focus group widely agreed that having an employee bring an order to the car was a plus. As much as tech dominates today’s lives, the personal touches continually resonate with customers.

90 Carhops can not only evoke a sense of nostalgia, but they can expedite service, take orders and payment, and hand completed orders to customers.

91 Maximize the order taker’s comfort and limit distractions by placing this team member in a space away from the restaurant’s hustle and bustle.

92 Team members should state the amount of change they are returning to the customer and count back that amount.

93 Install signage that highlights new items as well as promotional offers or special pricing. Signage can also display high-margin items to entice a purchase.

94 Institute a special drive-thru value meal complete with drive-thru-friendly items easy to eat while driving.

95 Run drive-thru-only drink promotions to increase higher-margin beverage sales.

Design

96 Position a duplicate menuboard before the order post so that guests can peruse the menu as they wait. This reduces a customer feeling rushed into ordering and allows a full review of options. It also improves speed once they arrive at the order post.

97 Push the car to the drive-thru window by narrowing the road.

98 Tight bends and any changes in direction cause drivers to be frustrated and misguided. Make the lane smooth and gradual.

99 To maximize double drive thrus, add extra signage to encourage drivers to use the left lane in addition to the traditional right lane.

100 Starting with the kitchen, design everything for speed and accuracy.

101 On a new build, position the restaurant to the left to segregate customer parking and retain maximum room on the right side for drive-thru operations.

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