Fast food operators debate a lot of things, except one: speed.

Speed is the linchpin of success in an industry that includes “fast” in its name. In 2017, QSR’s Drive-Thru Study reported a study in which researchers made nearly 2,000 visits to 15 different restaurants.

Raising Cane’s was the speediest, taking just 168.2 seconds to get customers from the order kiosk to food-in-hand; the next fastest was Dunkin Donuts at 173.85 seconds.

No need to mention last place because, really, there’s almost always room for improvement. Instead, let’s talk about how you can increase your speed of service without sacrificing quality.

Every second counts

It all begins in the workspace—in cleanliness, preparation, and organization. Here are three ways:

Food Safety: The most important line of defense. If you’re not already tracking the temperatures in your coolers, start now. Nothing will slow down service faster than a cooler food of too-warm food. A temperature tracking system monitors humidity and coldness. If temperatures start rising, employees will catch it early, receiving notifications on personal devices and moving inventory without loss (and replacing it with inventory so you’re ready for customers). Being pro-active about expiration dates and food labeling will improve speed as well. Tossing out-of-date food should be part of preparation each day.

Ditch the paper: If you’re still using paper logs to monitor your processes like cleaning and food-prepping, it’s time to invest in a checklist application. Many are cloud-based, accessed on a central device and information is stored digitally—a great way to compare performance and productivity over the short- and long-term. Employees see in real time, on their own device what tasks are finished and what tasks remain.

Portable systems and tracking software: Training, automated food labeling—especially for expiration dates and nutritional labeling—and inventory rotation all factor into speed of service. Do employees know the most efficient way to prep food, make it and pack it? Are condiments, napkins and straws labeled and in their proper place? Be fast without sacrificing compliance. Look for systems that offer mobile printing in conjunction with an iPad or similar device, so you can do what you need to do—wherever you are.

If you want to hit that 3-minute mark (or under) at the drive-thru or the counter, consider these three things. Each will shave a few seconds off your time without sacrificing quality.

Ryan Yost is general manager for the Printer Solutions Division (PSD) for Avery Dennison Corporation. Avery Dennison Printer Solutions responds to the unique challenges of businesses in the food, retail and fulfillment markets. Its solutions are rooted in efficiency, cost savings, food safety and sustainability through intelligent innovations that solve business problems and improve business processes.
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