5 Ways to Keep Your Drive-Thru Competitive

Drive-thrus account for approximately 60% of sales for Quick Service Restaurants, yet the drive-thru is easily neglected in favor of updates to the dine-in eating areas. Competition is fierce. Diners have more options and priorities are changing. To remain competitive, companies must observe these changes and figure out ways to make their brand stand out if they want to keep their customers happy.

1. CATER TO THE MOBILE DINER – The average American will spend almost 38,000 hours driving in their lifetime, so it is no surprise 20% of American meals are eaten in the car. Many restaurants are catering to the on-the-go consumer by offering auto-friendly foods and packaging. Wraps and burritos offer a neater option to sandwiches and burgers, while  packaging such as cups to fit standard cup holders or sandwiches wrapped with parchment paper make eating in the car less hectic. And although it may not be a new idea, ensuring napkins are in the to-go bag enhances the customer experience.

2. SPEED, ACCURACY AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE – Drive-thrus are getting slower. In the past, the standard time to get through the drive-thru was 210 seconds. Today, the average is about 286 seconds. Consumers are willing to give up a little time for accuracy, personalization and higher quality ingredients.

Accuracy can greatly improve with the addition of order confirmation boards and high quality speaker systems; however, if you are looking for more interactive ways to improve order accuracy, two-way video systems or touch screen ordering systems are always an option.

3. EXPRESS YOUR BRAND IN THE DRIVE-THRU – On average we are exposed to 5,000 ad messages a day and people are learning to shut out the noise. So why are so many restaurant owners failing to exploit one of their greatest assets? The opportunity to more effectively engage the customer with your brand is right there in the drive-thru. Clearly defined drive-thru lanes, attractive directionals, and vivid menu boards all improve the customer experience. It is this experience the customer will associate with your logo. It is this engagement which can turn a casual customer into a loyal one.  

4. SMARTPHONE TECHNOLOGY – Smartphones have had a tremendous impact on our lives from the way we socialize to the way we shop. Information, entertainment, deals, and friends are at our fingertips 24/7. To keep up with these societal changes many restaurants are adding smartphone apps of their own.

Preorder and prepay capabilities give consumers more time to peruse the menu, customize their order and pay without feeling hurried or rushed. Customer loyalty apps allow the customer to feel more engaged through personalized discounts and information on new menu items or store happenings. Lastly, these apps provide stores with great data for future marketing, promotions, and menu planning.

5. DRIVING SALES – It may seem, at first glance, this is purely meant to improve the bottom line; however, the strategies used to boost drive-thru sales can also improve customer experience and other measurable drive-thru attributes such as wait time, order time, service time, and accuracy.

The menu board is arguably the greatest sales tool a restaurant has in the drive-thru lane. Easy to read, vibrant boards aid the customer in the decision-making process. Too many options, small print, or a confusing layout can frustrate the customer and suppress sales. This is why restaurants prominently display combo meals on their menu boards. Combo meals simplify the ordering process, display key products, incorporate the up-sell of a side and drink, provide consistency for the employees and result in greater sales, faster order times, faster service time and greater accuracy. 

Digital menu boards are a great option for those looking to gain an edge in the market. They make changing or enhancing sales strategies more cost efficient and much easier. Menus can be changed to promote items based upon the time of day, specialty products can be promoted with high-quality photos to increase impulse buys, and there is no lag time waiting for a new menu board to get printed.

Persona is the leading sign producer for quick service restaurants. We are the best at what we do because we work with our customers throughout the project to ensure their investment in us will provide value for them. From branding to installation, Persona will work to make sure your drive-thru expresses your brand, engages your customer and provides them an experience which will keep them coming back.

For more information call us at 1-800-843-9888.