According to the 2019 QSR Drive-Thru Study, average drive-thru wait times increased by 8.5% compared to 2018. This number is expected to increase in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to an April 2020 survey, 98% of customers visiting quick-service restaurants are opting for drive-thru or takeout. A May 2020 survey showed that 80% of diners feel truly comfortable and safe ordering food via drive-thru, compared to 42% for dine in. The high demand for drive-thru will continue to persist as the pandemic lasts. As a result, restaurants have been scrambling to adapt their operational model to focus on drive-thru. Chipotle plans to operate drive-thrus at 60% of its new locations this year. McDonald’s has aggressively cut its menu items in order to speed up drive-thrus. Taco Bell is following a similar approach, yet its executives are well aware of the public backlash the brand has received for removing menu items. Two lane drive-thru layouts are typically confusing for customers when they are set up on an ad hoc basis. Rather than opening new locations and cutting costs in areas that could negatively impact guest satisfaction, your quick-service restaurant can use technology instead to speed up your drive-thru. These drive-thru technology solutions will help you significantly improve your restaurant’s operational efficiency in the long run, while providing a superior guest experience.

  1. Kiosks
    By placing a kiosk at the drive-thru window, restaurants can enable customers to order and pay without the need for human contact. Employees can place wipes or hand sanitizer by the kiosk with placards encouraging customers to use them after interacting with the device. This helps keep guests and staff safe, while speeding up drive-thru operations even while understaffed.
  2. Computer Vision
    The first step in optimizing your operations is to identify bottlenecks at your restaurant. Are drive-thru orders coming in faster than usual? Are guests leaving after waiting too long? Computer Vision measures line lengths, wait times, and opt-out rates in real time across your restaurants so it can help your managers make objective decisions to optimize operations. The technology automatically alerts managers about bottlenecks so that they can distribute staff more efficiently or deploy Line Busters.
  3. Line Busters
    Are long lines at your drive-thru windows discouraging more guests from queuing up? Drive-thru staff can speed up lines and eliminate opt-outs by taking orders and payments at the car window with Line Busters. These tablets enable staff to pull up guest profiles with past orders, and process orders and payments from six feet away.
  4. Voice Recognition
    Voice recognition technology enables guests to place orders verbally without interacting with a staff member. The technology uses artificial intelligence to provide automatic upsells and can measure guest satisfaction based on real-time voice analysis. This provides speedy service for guests and promotes social distancing. Staff can focus on greeting guests, fulfilling orders, and working on other sales channels.
  5. Smartwatch
    By wearing a special smartwatch device, managers can see alerts in real time on line lengths, wait times, bottlenecks, and customer issues to ensure timely resolution of problems. It can notify managers when line-busting is required, guests need assistance, or there are kitchen delays. In addition, the device notifies management about unhappy guests who are in danger of never returning to your restaurant. Managers can resolve the issue with guests in person before they leave a bad review online.

Deploying drive-thru technology has longer lasting and more impactful benefits than traditional cost-cutting methods. The innovative solution enables you to provide a more personalized experience to guests even when you are short of staff or need to abide with social distancing guidelines. Finally, it can provide you a high-level view of performance metrics across your different restaurant brands and locations. Get more information on our quick-service technology platform, which enables your restaurants to improve operational efficiency without hiring more staff, while keeping your guests and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.