4 Benefits of Offering Drive-Thru Services at Your Restaurant
America offered diners their first drive-thru experience more than 70 years ago, though by then, the drive-thru concept had been in existence for almost 20 years. Some say the first restaurant to offer this new take on takeout was Red’s Giant Hamburger along the famous Route 66; others say it was In-N-Out Burgers in Baldwin Park, California. Whichever has the real claim as a pioneer, it’s safe to say the concept was introduced to consumers in the late ’40s.
The drive-thru was the natural successor to the drive-in concept where diners ordered food and ate as they sat in the comfort of their cars. Given the success the In-N-Outs experienced, established eateries were rather ponderous in adopting this style of service. The ’60s saw smaller chains hop on board before the likes of McDonald’s joined the drive-thru bandwagon a decade later.
As the popularity of drive-thru eating swelled, restaurants began offering more burgers and other readily portable meals. Carmakers also responded to this trend by being more deliberate about the inclusion of cup holders. And with good reason, number crunchers say that 50 to 60 percent of a restaurant’s sales come from drive-thrus.
But what does offering drive-thru service mean in today’s market? For one, it helps businesses across the food and beverage industry stay competitive. This no longer includes burger joints; more and more coffee shops, pizza places, and fast-casual restaurants are opening drive-thru windows. If you own or operate a food business, you may consider expanding to drive-thru for the following reasons:
- Meet the Needs of Customers who Prioritize Convenience
The rise in popularity of drive-thrus is not a fluke. More folks are happy to take advantage of the convenience these restaurants offer, given that they get pretty much all the options on the menus of traditional fast foods. As lives get busier and busier, folks want a place they can drive into after work, place their order and pick as they drive off. No more sitting and hoping for a waiter to hand you a menu, only to wait more. If you’re starting on a long drive and want to munch on something on the go, opting for a drive-thru will be a no-brainer. If you’re from a baseball game with a car full of excited kids, you want to get them home and full ASAP.
- Serve More Customers Throughout the Day
Drive-thru service is also advantageous for the staff on the other side of the service counter. Customer volume will automatically rise as you spend less time on each customer, and you will be able to serve customers all day long, not just during regular lunch or dinner times. You will be able to serve consumers who don’t have the luxury of a whole lunch hour to themselves, like that executive caught in between meetings who needs to grab a quick bite before dashing to his next appointment.
- Easily Embrace Technology
With less moving parts than a sit-in restaurant, drive-thrus render themselves more readily adaptable to new technology. And with efficiency being the name of the game, anything that will lower turnaround time is always welcome. Point of sale (POS) systems allow orders to be taken and delivered to the kitchen faster and more accurately. Emerging POS systems integrate with inventory modules to update the movement of stock by the order, alerting you when soft drinks run out, for instance. They also feed each order into sales figures, allowing management to extract up-to-date reports on the company’s health on the go, be it for a stand-alone outlet or a drive-thru chain.
The G5 headset further builds on the efficiencies of POS by carrying orders through clear audio from the counter to the kitchen. They come with a host of features that make them more convenient to use, including wireless connectivity and rechargeable batteries. Indicating lights can be used to distinguish orders from customers in different lanes. G5 headsets and technology for drive-thrus can also be used to store promotional messages that can alert customers to specific menu items, helping drive sales.
- Expand Your Hours
Drive-thrus can be a very profitable extension of your sit-in establishment by increasing volumes in various ways. They will, in essence, allow you to tap into a whole new market- people who want to grab a bite beyond regular dining hours. With average service times clocking at around four minutes, drive-thrus, especially those equipped with the right tech, allow businesses to capitalize on high traffic hours, instead of being overwhelmed by them. Some fast-food establishments even offer 24-hour service at their drive-thru windows.
Fast Lane to Success
It is important to realize drive-thrus, in and of themselves, are not an automatic ticket to success in the fast-casual space. The basic principles of business and eatery success still apply. You need to maintain high standards of quality in your offerings and your service. Just because they’ll be out of your hands in less than five minutes doesn’t mean your customers won’t appreciate courtesy and a smile.