How to boost drive-thru efficiency and revenue.

Quick-service restaurants rely heavily on drive-thru traffic to generate revenue. According to a recent study, approximately 70 percent of quick-service sales come from drive-thru orders. For this reason, quick-service restaurants are constantly seeking ways to improve the drive-thru experience and increase guest traffic.

One of the most effective ways to do this is through the use of digital reader boards, which can display a variety of information to customers, including menu items, pricing, promotions, and directions. Many quick-service operators are familiar with plastic manual reader boards and find that upgrading to digital saves time and presents a modern, relevant image.

“Because they can be programmed to show real-time updates, digital reader boards are an effective way to promote new products, highlight daily specials, and call attention to products based on the time of day, weather conditions, inventory, and other factors,” says David Watson, Watchfire’s director of corporate programs.

Digital reader boards also are an effective way to increase visibility for drive-thru customers. These boards are often larger and brighter than traditional signage, making them easier to see and read from a distance.

The Taco Bell Defy, launched last year in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, offers an excellent demonstration of effective digital reader board implementation. As the franchise’s first two-story, drive-thru exclusive outlet, it aims to provide a two-minute or less drive-thru encounter for its patrons.

Equipped with four lanes, the eatery features large 2 feet x 5 feet high-definition digital reader boards manufactured from Watchfire, which aid in managing traffic for pre-orders, delivery drivers, and regular drive-thru visitors. The signage and architectural elements were designed and fabricated by Everbrite of Greenfield, Wisconsin.

Digital reader boards are so versatile, it may be difficult to know how to leverage them. Here are some best practices.

Make real-time updates on menu items: With a digital reader board, it’s easy to post last-minute messages to promote items, for instance, based on excess inventory or weather.

Promotion of new products and limited-time menu items: By incorporating photos, restaurants can effectively showcase their offerings, allowing customers to make informed purchasing decisions.

Increase revenue: By upselling meal combinations and encouraging impulse buys, restaurants can boost their revenue. Promote loyalty programs to keep customers coming back.

Improve the customer experience: By displaying wait times or estimated order completion, as well as drive-thru hours, restaurants improve transparency and allow customers to plan visits accordingly.

Provide directional signage: Reduce confusion and improve traffic flow by indicating where customers should enter, stop for ordering, pick up food, and exit.

Maintain consistent branding: Reinforce brand recognition and customer loyalty by incorporating elements, such as the restaurant’s logo, color scheme, and other branding elements.

Overall, effective quick-serivce drive-thru signage is critical to the success of the customer’s drive-thru experience. Digital reader boards make messaging clear and easy to read, provide opportunities to drive revenue, and create a positive and memorable overall brand experience.

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