How fast-casual dining is continuing to think of ways to improve efficiency

With off-premises dining driving revenue in the quick-service segment, state-of-the-art signage is emerging as a crucial solution for drive thrus and pickup areas. Poor traffic flow and inconsistent branding rank among the biggest front-of-house restaurant design challenges. Effective signage keeps traffic moving for faster service and reinforces branding through easy-to-read, well-organized, and clearly visible signs.

In 2024, more operators are investing in upgrading or adding drive thrus and walk-up windows, as well as tools to enhance off-premises dining. “The key today is seconds matter, and that is everyone’s mantra,” says Robert Creasy, vice president of business development for DSA Signage. With 70–80 percent of their business coming from drive-thru, online, and delivery orders, managing high volumes efficiently has become paramount.

Today, the focus is on balancing throughput, speed, efficiency, customer service, and communication with customers. Creasy highlights that operators are constantly planning for future needs. “Drive-thru renovations used to be every 10 years, but now these are happening every three–five years due to new technology and the desire for more lanes.”

This evolution is driving the demand for both static and digital signage, accommodating multiple lanes and separate pickup areas. Operators must also balance these spaces with parking to avoid customer confusion and safety hazards. The need for dynamic digital menuboards is increasing as menu prices fluctuate. Digital signage allows for quick and easy updates to food offerings and prices. 

“The ability to quickly change menu pricing is the biggest selling point for digital signage,” Creasy notes. “This adaptability was highlighted as the price of chicken fluctuated widely over the last five years.” 

While fluctuating prices influence the need for digital signage, static signage has offered a lower upfront cost. 

Large, backlit static and digital menuboards also address visibility issues and function well across various lighting conditions. 

“This setup allows operators to feature photos of high-margin items and encourage impulse sales,” Creasy says. “The recommended format is 80 percent pictures and 20 percent text, focusing on revenue-driving items and meal combos.” The choice between static and digital menus can be significant, given their longevity. 

“There is a cost justification for digital displays versus continuously reprinting a menu board,” Creasy says. “Static signage, meanwhile, offers a more affordable option that can provide similar benefits.”

With so many changes happening to the market right now like fighting the cost of inflation prices and increasing wages of workers across the country it’s apparent that the need for more and more automation and digitalization will be developing and getting more and more impressive. Like many of the European fast-food chains have already adopted, self-service kiosks and artificial intelligent menuboards are expected to keep expanding across America to help with the flow of traffic and off-setting costs. 

Learn more about ways to improve your signage capabilities with DSA Signage.

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