Special Report

Opportunity in the Car

Any brand with a drive-thru operation faces the huge challenge of extending its high-quality in-store experience to an operation outside the store.

QSR magazine drive thru study
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The challenge of extending quality in-store service outdoors.

Any brand with a drive-thru operation faces the huge challenge of extending its high-quality in-store experience to an operation where consumers communicate with only a menuboard speaker, see only your parking lot, then receive their food in a bag and through a window. It's challenging, but the opportunities for improving that lack-luster experience are vast. For example, with the growing use of technology in consumers' everyday lives, it comes as little surprise that those devices are also with them when they're in the drive thru. Of the top five items in a car with consumers when they're in the lane, the three most popular are pieces of modern technology (cell phone, smartphone, and a laptop, respectively). 

Perhaps even more telling about where the drive-thru experience is headed in the future and how you can begin improving yours is the overwhelming percentage of consumers multitasking as they wait. While 45 percent report talking to passengers while waiting in the lane, consumers' combined responses relating to technology outpace that. For example, 25 percent are talking on the phone, 21 percent are texting, 11 percent are reading and answering e-mails, and so on. The opportunity for brands to get involved in this element of the experience is immense, and it becomes even greater the younger the consumer is. In comparison to the general population studied, nearly half of 16- and 17-year-olds talk on the phone while they wait and 37 percent text. This begs the question: How can you get involved in those conversations?