Special Report | October 2017 | By Sam Oches

Arby's Drive Thru Success Tips

High-quality food, friendly service, accurate orders, and 'respectfully urgent' speed define the industry leader's approach.
Love of Mine Photography by Dena Dendy
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Vitals>>

Speed of Service: 244.37 seconds

Order Accuracy: 90.5%

What are your tips for improving speed of service at Arby’s?

First, we must leverage technology and innovation at every touch point of the drive-thru experience. This includes how each component contributes individually to the experience and the sum of the parts that will produce a best-in-class drive-thru experience. Key elements to consider are menu complexity, menuboard design and layout, digital menuboards and preview boards, headset and speaker audio functionality, speed-of-service timers, POS, and mobile app integration.

Second, our production process must be as efficient as possible. We believe our “Fast Crafted” positioning provides us an advantage over both our quick-service and fast-casual competitors. With our made-to-order production flow, guests know they can count on us for fast and friendly service, but they also afford us a few more seconds in return for that freshly crafted sandwich. Our success is also dependent upon our ability to innovate and leverage equipment configuration, production-line efficiencies, and smart labor deployment. As we drive synergy across these individual initiatives, we will continue to outperform other quick-serve competitors on guest satisfaction related to speed of service.

Third, we will continue to explore alternative order fulfillment venues to alleviate pressure on the drive thru. The solution is not just an improved speed-of-service metric in the drive thru, but also a broader understanding of the quickest and most effective way to get our sandwiches into the hands of our guests. Redistributing guest flow to other access points like mobile, delivery, carryout, dine-in, drive-in, and other on-premises ordering and eating possibilities is key to our long-term growth.

What are your tips for improving order accuracy at Arby’s?

First, there must be clarity in the guest/team member exchange. The moment of truth for order accuracy is clear communication with validation and agreement on what was ordered. High-definition headsets and drive-thru speakers make a significant difference in this important first step. Validating the completed order either verbally or visually is also crucial.

Second, product packaging should assist in accuracy. By simplifying the packaging and package labeling, we can help our team members improve order accuracy. We’re looking look at ways to specialize our packaging and labeling to foster greater clarity and accuracy.

Third, empower the guest. In the drive thru of the future, guests want significantly more control in the process. We’re looking at new technologies—both on- and off-premises—that will reduce our order-taking responsibility and will dramatically improve order accuracy, speed of service, and guest satisfaction.

Besides speed and accuracy, what’s the most critical factor to Arby’s drive-thru success?

The most important factor is having a balanced approach to the business. Our “Fast Crafted” positioning is about unique, meaty sandwiches that are made to order and just for you. But it’s also about the total experience. At so many drive thrus, the focus is almost entirely on speed, as it’s the most tangible and measureable. Our growth and our success over the last several years has been the product of our high-quality food, friendly service, accurate orders, and respectfully urgent speed—and that goes for both dine-in and drive thru. It’s been said that you can only do some of these things at the expense of others, but we believe you can do them all at the same time. A great sandwich, a big smile, and getting all the right things in the bag doesn’t slow you down—we believe that deeply.

What’s one innovation that you think is going to change the future of drive thru?

Technology is moving at the speed of light and presents new opportunities to improve every aspect of the drive-thru experience today. From merchandising to menuboards and order confirmation to audio and payment systems, there will continue to be significant advancements focused on delivering a better experience for consumers. I’m most intrigued, however, with the impact of mobile-ordering technology on the drive thru. Specifically, I’m interested in technology’s ability to take some velocity out of the drive thru via inside or curbside pick-up, as well as the potential to speed up the drive thru as mobile devices augment the traditional order/speaker pad and increase throughput to our kitchens.

—John Bowie / COO