Understanding the importance of the drive-thru experience

Dec 06, 2013 | Articles

John A. Gordon of Pacific Management Consulting Group says that, "easily two-thirds of [QSR] sales" come from drive-thrus. He goes on to say that, "Drive-thrus are so critical to their business model.”

With customers often strapped for time, and growing increasingly more impatient, QSR’s are always looking for new and innovative ways to not only speed up the drive-thru, but to also create an engaging experience to distract customers from wait times.

While speed isn’t the only factor, a report from QSR Magazine shows that customers don’t have long to wait before proclaiming “dinner is served”.

  • McDonald’s - 189 seconds
  • Wendy’s - 134 seconds
  • Taco Bell - 158 seconds
  • Taco John’s - 181 seconds

McDonald’s is in the process of testing out a third window in new and rebuilt restaurants.

Customers pull to one window to pay for their order, another to pick up their meal and a new third window called a “Fast Forward Drive-Thru” - which allows customers whose orders aren’t yet ready to have a place to wait.

McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb said, "This test, along with other recent additions like double-lane and side-by-side drive-thrus, will enable us to better serve more customers quickly with the fast, friendly service they have come to expect from McDonald''s.”

For QSR’s beginning to understand how lucrative drive-thrus can be, it’s important to create a carefully designed system that provides the perfect balance of speed and satisfaction. Your ultimate goal should be a quick, uncomplicated, engaging drive-thru experience.

In addition to the typical zones of a drive-thru system – that server to engage, inform, direct and motivate customers – some of the latest technologies should be considered when creating or updating your drive-thru system:

  • Solar and LED lighting
  • Digital Menu Boards
  • Low-Power Radio Broadcasts
  • Timers

Adding or improving a drive-thru system is much like adding a separate business to your restaurant, allowing you to continually build your brand identity, while offering customers a fast and user-friendly experience.

QSR Magazine (www.qsrmagazine.com), November 2013, “Building a Better Drive-Thru”)

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