Special Report | October 2016 | By Sam Oches

Inside Arby’s Drive-Thru Strategy

When it comes to speed of service and accuracy, the “fast-crafted” brand is ahead of the curve.
Arby’s / Dena Dendy

As Arby’s seeks to differentiate itself from the rest of the quick-service pack with its “fast-crafted” mantra, the drive thru has become an important piece to that upscaling puzzle. Rick Gestring, vice president of Arby’s brand and operations integration, says customers are visiting the drive thru more frequently than ever, appreciating the ability to access high-quality food quickly and conveniently.

Speed of service and accuracy are, as ever, two of the priorities in the drive thru, he adds, and the data shows the company puts its money where its mouth is; Arby’s came in above average on both counts, with service averaging 225.31 seconds and 91.3 percent of orders proving accurate.

But Gestring says friendly customer service has also become crucial to delivering a “fast-crafted” drive-thru experience. “We try to differentiate the guest at the menuboard so we understand whether or not they’re in a real hurry, or if they’ve got a little bit more time, or if they’re searching out something new on the menu,” he says. “We try to augment our service experience to their needs.”’

While guests are willing to wait a few more seconds for high-quality food, he adds, they’re still expecting Arby’s to make the food consistently and with “a sense of urgency.” To help its crew deliver on those expectations, Arby’s has tweaked the back-of-house systems in its new Inspire store prototype, improving the set-up “to make the drive thru more productive” and team members “more able to address the needs of our drive-thru guests,” he says. That has included new headset and speaker technology to improve communication with customers.

Gestring says the company is still exploring ways to improve the drive thru, looking closely at new technologies like mobile ordering and additional communications tools that “break down some of the constructed barriers of a drive-thru experience and make them more engaging.” He and his team believe the perfect drive thru has yet to be created.

“To some degree, how we un–[fast food] the drive-thru experience is where a lot of our time and energy is against today,” he says.

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