Opening a Drive-thru? Ask Yourself These Questions

When it comes to adding a drive-thru to a location, for the most part there are four scenarios that you will find yourself in; 1- a new build-out, 2- taking over a location the has had a drive-thru in the past, 3- taking over a location that hasn’t had a drive-thru in the past and 4- adding a drive-thru to your existing location.  It should come as no surprise that in the cases where drive-thrus had previously existed there is less work to be done ahead of time.  That being said, there is a lot more to do than erecting a sign and calling it a day if you are looking for a fully-functional drive-thru.  Today I will turn the table and have you ask yourself the questions that need answering before you jump in with two feet.  Your answers could have a sizable impact on the bottom-line.

Drive Thru Menu Board Add-Ons Wings(for the purpose of this blog, the questions will be shaped around a traditional single lane drive-thru operation)

Has there ever been a drive-thru at this location previously?  We dipped our toe on this topic above, but what makes this the most critical question to answer?  The reason is because if the answer is “no” there are going to be areas that need addressing that would otherwise already been in place.  To list a few; the drive-thru window, the conduit for power and speaker/mic/loop wire, the concrete base(s), the landscaping, the permits, counters, etc

How many headsets will I need?  Entering a conversation with a number in mind is a good idea.  Be sure to give this some thought.  Some considerations that will help you:
- a minimum of two is a no-brainer (one for use and the other for, a-training, b- back-up if their is a failure, c- damage, d- the battery is dead, or e- during a busy period)
- what is your workflow going to look like?  Will one key the order and do the transaction while another bags?  When you have a second, 3rd, 4th, etc person wear a headset, things can get done in real-time

How many menu items do I have?  No matter who is manufacturing your drive-thru menu board they should be able to tell you how many items will fit on a given cabinet.  There are additional factors such as the pictures required that will further dictate the size of board you’ll end up needing.  In any event, it goes without saying that the more menu items you have, the larger the sign, the greater the cost.  Food for thought- our taller (single) panel has 40 lines of space on it.

Do I have a relationship with a local general contractor and/or tech?  The installation, who is going to do it?  At Origin we are happy to make introductions given our national reach of installers we’ve used in the past.  Alternatively, and more common, we simply provide the necessary instructions and drawings so that our clients can have their own “people” do it.  It would be my unsolicited advice to pass this information along ahead of purchasing the equipment  so you can get a total cost of ownership that includes install.  The same can be said for the communication system.  All the instructions will be provided so you can attempt this on your own, or you can allocate your own tech, or you can have companies like us provide you one in your area.

Do I have a permit for the signage?  Whenever a township, city, or whomever can, they will pinch you for money.  I have seen this be a mere formality in a lot of case and in others lawyers are involved and on-site “dog-and-pony” shows have to be done to illustrate how the sign will “not distract moving traffic.”  Add to that, the likely change to your parking lot and the standard of which that has to abide.  Either which way, collect all the technical drawings you can so that the process is as easy as it can be for when you get before the town.

Did I mention that taking over a location that had a drive-thru in the past makes all of this a lot easier?  Well if I didn’t, it should be evident now.

I have stated many a time that “a dollar to me is different than a dollar to you” but when it comes to a full blow drive-thru project, that dollar can get sizable and as such, the project should be done with care and with reputable companies.

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