A native cloud solution helps this brand increase drive-thru efficiency and take control of branding.

As the drive thru has grown in popularity—particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic—brands are introducing new, innovative ideas for how to implement them. Even as restaurants and foodservice operations begin to fully open indoor dining again, drive thru will continue to play a major role in the evolution of the post-pandemic restaurant landscape.

But not all drive thrus are created equal—nor should they be. As with other successful branding efforts, the drive-thru experience should cater to the customer journey that works best for each restaurant’s patrons. This is typically much different for a smaller operation than for a large national chain with many franchises. For example, some chains may require a simple, one-window setup, while others may need a very complex drive thru with multiple lanes and windows, linebusting capabilities, and curbside pickup. Either way, if a restaurant aims to stay competitive in the quick-serve space, upping its drive-thru game is critical. 

“We see lots of businesses who previously had not considered drive-thru now opening their eyes and exploring the possibilities,” says Michael Manlapas, vice president of partnerships at Revel Systems. “Many places already had drive thrus set up before the pandemic, but in certain sectors—like quick serve—it’s now table stakes. We also see more fast-casual brands adding drive thrus as well.”

Bahama Buck’s, a Lubbock, Texas-based chain that serves shaved ice and other island-themed smoothies, introduced drive thrus in 1990 and have continued to the develop the drive-thru experience since. Bahama Buck’s uses Revel’s native cloud-based point of sale (POS) platform, which provided the flexibility and hardware options to easily implement a drive thru that made sense for their footprint and desired guest experience.

Having this offering helped them stay competitive during the tumult of 2020.

“We’re primarily a people business, and our drive thru provides a very engaging experience for our guests,” says Andrew Packer, field operations manager at Bahama Buck’s. “Guests don’t come because they are thirsty—it’s usually because they are celebrating an occasion, have visitors in town, or are making a special memory. The face-to-face aspect is very important to our business model.”

When the drive thru does get slammed, Revel’s iPad-based platform offers added mobility, and allows Bahama Buck’s crew to head outside for line busting with mobile order takers.

“Unlike some concepts, where they may move a temporary table outside as an order station because their POS system requires a stationary setup, Revel allows us to take out as many iPads as we want and take orders beyond the order taking box so the team can work ahead,” Packer says.

In the future, the system will also allow customers who order online or via mobile apps to change their pickup method after ordering. For instance, if a customer orders food for pickup in the drive thru but sees a long line when they arrive, they can quickly update their order to request curbside service or indoor pickup. 

“We’re just scratching the surface with these abilities, but that flexibility is built into the Revel technology,” Packer says. “I expect that to expand as guests become more adept at navigating mobile apps and evaluating the most efficient way to order and pick up their food.”

In February, Revel announced a new partnership with Delphi Display Systems that allows restaurants of any size to create drive-thru experiences similar to those of national brands. By integrating Delphi’s digital outdoor menu boards, drive-thru order confirmation, and drive-thru timing systems directly with Revel’s POS platform, restaurant owners can maximize consumer engagement, product awareness, and brand loyalty. The solution is fully customizable based on an operator’s specific needs and budget.

“We have built engagement models for different sectors of the market,” Manlapas says. “We have shrink-wrapped package solutions for smaller operators who need guidance and prefer to follow our lead in terms of best practices and solutions, while larger businesses will have more demand for customization.”

For operators looking to implement or upgrade their drive thrus but may not have the resources of a larger enterprise, Revel can help define an appropriate solution.

To learn more about how to streamline your drive-thru operations, visit the Revel website.

By Davina van Buren

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