Drive-thru technology has been static since they were introduced in the U.S. in the 1970s. As a Gen-Xer who grew up with the drive-thru, there hasn’t been much difference in the experience or process since that time. Staff’s use of tablets in the drive-thru to take orders (line busters) and small-scale utilization of digital menu boards have been the only technology features that have been adopted at all.

The last few years have brought a number of changes into the industry that set the table for transformational change:

Delivery, digital ordering, and loyalty programs

COVID accelerated a requirement that restaurants adapt to the new digital environment. Customers demanded convenience and expected an experience tailored to their own tastes and preferences. As restaurants saw these trends, they developed their own apps that supported easy order and delivery options, improved loyalty, and reward capabilities.

The labor crisis

COVID exacerbated a trend that had been building for years, the difficulty of recruiting and retaining employees to handle the challenges of fast-food operations. As restaurants in the US have struggled to find solutions for the labor shortage, they’ve recently come to the realization that automation is an excellent solution, as it has been for some time in other countries.

The QSR future is now

Presto offers next-gen automation technology that capitalizes on these trends and optimizes restaurant operations while providing customers with superior service. Presto continues to be a leader in the industry, as they recently deployed their Voice solution to Checkers nationwide corporate-owned restaurants.” The automated voice ordering is a really nice thing for franchisees to have right now, because it takes the pressure off of their employees,” says Robert Bhagwandat, senior director of franchising development at Checkers & Rally’s. “We have found that it saves up to 9 hours of labor per day – that’s quite a bit of money saved when you calculate it for an entire year. Now employees can work more efficiently and operators don’t have to worry about employees racking up overtime.”

Presto’s next-gen Vision technology consists of well-placed cameras linked to smart A.I. tech. The system identifies returning guests in the drive-thru to offer them personalized menus and items, detects errors during assembly, identifies missing items, and verifies packaging to ensure orders are completed correctly. With Presto Vision, order accuracy can be up to 10% higher without requiring additional staffing – leading to higher profits.

When Voice and Vision technologies are combined together, it streamlines the guest experience while increasing the guest-to-staff ratio in the drive-thru. We believe in 3-5 years, the majority of drive-thrus will leverage this type of technology to optimize operations, improve order accuracy, and provide rich in-store analytics. Because of these trends, QSRs are poised to embrace this next-gen automated technology to get ahead of industry challenges and stay competitive.

About Presto

Presto overlays next-gen digital solutions onto the physical world. Our enterprise-grade touch, vision, and voice technologies help hospitality businesses thrive while delighting guests. With over 100 million guests using Presto each month and 300,000 systems shipped, we are one of the largest technology providers in the industry.

Founded at M.I.T. in 2008, Presto is headquartered in Silicon Valley, Calif. with customers including top 20 hospitality chains such as Applebee’s, Aramark, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Denny’s, and Outback Steakhouse.