Drive-thrus first emerged in 1947. Since then, restaurants have been trying to make them even more efficient and convenient for their patrons. We’ve seen tremendous innovation on this front, from two-way speakers to touchless delivery. And things continue to move forward.
As they do, customers are adapting. Many expect a smooth experience. After all, isn’t that the point of a drive-thru?
Here are a few tips to make your drive-thru the best experience for customers.
Stay on Top of Stocking Your Drive-thru Stations
When it comes to rapid food delivery, you need to prevent bottlenecks. The drive-thru itself, for instance, might be able to process fifty customers per hour. But unless you have all the stock you require to hand, you’ll struggle to get numbers anywhere near that high.
Keep the following items close to hand at all times when you operate a drive-thru and ensure that you have proper vending facilities for them:
- Stirring sticks for coffee
- Disposable cutlery
- Paper towels and napkins
- Drinks holders
- Bags for orders
- Containers for food
- Lids for cups
- Condiment packets
- Salt and pepper sachets
- Menu leaflets
- Promotional flyers
- Toys and other marketing items
The better you keep your window stocked, the faster you’ll serve each customer and be able to move onto the next.
Practice Healthy Sanitation And Safety Measures
COVID-19 is making operating in the restaurant industry much more challenging than it used to be. But the humble drive-thru is riding to the rescue. Passing food from a restaurant window to somebody in a vehicle is a lower risk activity than having them sit down with other patrons in a confined environment.
Even so, you still need to upgrade your sanitation game—partly to protect people and partly to encourage customers to venture out and buy your food.
Start by creating a sanitization plan for your outlet. Ensure that operators wear gloves, masks, and any other safety equipment that will put customers at ease. In addition, find ways to publicize the fact that you take health measures seriously. Things like displaying hand sanitizers prominently by windows can help a great deal. You can also put up posters explaining your sanitization plan.
Update Your Menus
COVID-19 has disrupted supply chains and altered the menus that restaurants offer. If you’ve changed yours, update the display board. This includes removing items which are no longer available and marking which items are on sale.
The more concise and value-driven you can make your offering, the speedier and more accurate your drive-thru will become. Then employees won’t have to bother customers by telling them that their desired item is unavailable.
Invest In A Restaurant Mobile App
A restaurant mobile app could be the most potent innovation to hit the drive-thru scene in recent years. These brilliant pieces of software encourage people to place orders ahead of time, allowing you to prep food in advance. This helps customers avoid lines when they pick up their food.
As a business, you gain in several ways. The customer ordering via that app is happy because they don’t have to sit in line. Non-app-using patrons benefit from shorter lines and the ability to order and pay for their items faster. And your restaurant can stay on top of orders and wait time by working more efficiently.
Utilize Confirmation Boards To Make Fewer Errors
In the past, order errors were a big problem for drive-thrus. Customers would speak with an operator via the speaker system, only to find the food in their bag was different from what they asked for. Problems like these would then create a backlog—not what you want when you’re trying to serve people rapidly.
Confirmation boards, however, reduce the likelihood of errors. As an employee enters the order into the system, it simultaneously shows up on a display the customer can see from their vehicle. If there’s a mistake, patrons can simply make edits by telling staff to amend the order. Ultimately, it means that orders are corrected before the food is even prepared.
Especially considering the current state of the foodservice industry, optimizing your drive-thru could be the strategy that keeps your restaurant afloat. These tips will help you effectively manage customer expectations and create a smoother, quicker production and service process.