It’s tough to operate a lucrative quick service restaurant (QSR) these days. Among the challenges facing most operators include QSR market saturation, high employee turnover rate, increased competition from casual-dining restaurants with more menu choices, and a recovering economy. The pressure is on for QSRs.
With a substantial portion of any QSR sales coming from drive thru transactions, restaurant owners are finding innovative ways to improve their efficiency and increase revenue. Here are five tips to help you operate a thriving drive thru.
- Train Employees for Clear Communication
Delivering the best drive thru experience possible depends heavily on your leadership team’s ability to train and motivate your employees to meet your business end goals. Incentives and training can be the building blocks for speedy services.
Using incentive contests in training your employees is one the most effective way of achieving your restaurant goals. For instance, by selecting and training the best communicators to take orders, you’ll ensure each customer interaction will be clear and friendly.
Training drive thru workers is also a smart investment for your QSR. Not only does it improve productivity, but well-trained employees help to build a better reputation for your establishment.
- Account for Setbacks and Errors
Speed and accuracy are critical to customers’ satisfaction in a drive thru service. Customers with tight schedules and busy lives quickly grow frustrated every few seconds a food order delays. Even a minor slip-up can cause the prospect customers to look for a different place to eat next time.
But how can you achieve the drive thru order accuracy and speed that’ll keep your restaurant ahead of the competition? For the best operational results, use a comprehensive approach to customers, on technology, and in the ordering process.
You should also have a system in place for handling errors and setbacks. For example, at McDonald’s, the food chain has designated a spot for drive thru customers to pull over as they wait for food items that are taking too long to prepare.
- Invest in High-Quality Hardware
Within the last few years, many new technologies have emerged to help improve QSR’s efficiency, and drive thru communication systems have become a key element in any operation.
These systems allow employees to serve customers more efficiently at every stage of the drive thru service—from taking the order to preparing the food items and finally delivering the order to customers—in a swift, systematic fashion.
Communication systems have also evolved from cabled to wireless, meeting the needs for today’s fast-growing drive thru services. The newest generations of wireless drive thru intercom systems feature hand-free capabilities, allowing employees to move around freely and comfortably while performing multiple tasks. These intercoms and speakers also enable smooth, natural communication between your employees and customers.
In addition to communication systems, you can install other technologies that can help to improve performance by enhancing customer interaction. The hardware include:
- Digital Signage: For instance, digital menus set the tone and pace for the entire QSR experience. They should be easy-to-read and clean to facilitate customers’ choices.
- Order Confirmation Screen: You should also install a video screen that provides visual confirmation of the order, which your customers can read from the driver’s seat. Such customer-facing displays can help in improving speed and accuracy.
- Offer a Mobile App and Other Ways to Pay
A mobile app can allow customers to place orders at any time and from anywhere. This strategy is especially helpful in high-volume establishments or during peak hours and seasons.
Handling cash in a drive thru is also time-consuming. You should allow your customers to pay their orders via cashless payment options such as Google Pay, ApplePay, and others. Eliminating cash transactions can save up to 15 seconds of service time for every order.
- Check-In Frequently
Another essential tip you should follow is to keep a regular track of your drive thru operation. By monitoring the numbers, such as employees’ speed data and sales, you’ll be able to control overheads and identify areas that need improvement.
You should also regularly check inventories and review them with your employees to track the most selling items. Customers’ feedback is also critical as it lets you assess the quality of services your employees are offering.
In today’s fiercely competitive Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) market, you need strategic plans to help you run your drive thru successfully. Treat your drive thru establishment as a corporate business entity, and you’ll stand out from the crowd. You should also train your employees (choose the best communicators) to improve order accuracy and speed while minimizing errors—every second count when working towards optimizing drive thru efficiency.