10 Ways to Speed Up Drive-thru Service

If you can relate to this blog then chances are you have a good problem.  What this likely means is that you are having some level of difficulty handling the volume of cars that are coming through your drive-thru.  For the purposes of this blog, lets pretend for a moment that your current setup is sufficient and that there are no glaring issues that have to be corrected.  What I mean is that at the very least, you have a functional drive-thru and communications system.

Speed upThere are several ways that you could go about speeding up the A-Z in your drive-thru service.  Some are more granular while others are more extensive.  Put another way, some are relatively cheap while others are expensive.  With that said, I have plucked ten suggestions that you may want to consider to get those cars through your lanes quicker.

1- Add a transaction window- Take your already existing drive-thru window and add another for the financial transaction.  At this window you should also hand out all necessary condiments and utensils.  This way, when you get to the last window you’ll simply have to hand over the “goods.”  It goes without saying that your building would have to be able to accommodate the additional window somewhere along the lane.

2- Introduce a timer system- Timer systems have been proven to increase speed-of-service when used appropriately.  In the last couple of years, the visual aids for these systems have become increasingly powerful, allowing for an instant picture of what is happening with your drive-thru.  You’re able to set goals and generate reports on how your team meets or falls short of them.

3- Draw a spaghetti diagram- Google “spaghetti diagram” to get a better idea of what I am talking about here.  It comes from a principle of Six Sigma and these diagrams define the ACTUAL work flow to fulfill a production need.  Take the area in which your food is being prepared, bagged, etc. and draw a diagram.  You’ll likely notice that there is some room for optimization.  For example, similar exercises lead most QSR’s to add an additional fountain machine right next to the window.  It cuts down on traffic and most importantly turnaround time.

4- Add a presell menu board- Presell boards have traditionally been used for limited time offers and specials, however there has been an evolving trend that is seeing these signs being used to list core menu offerings.  Quite often these are in the form of combo meals.  In doing this, you are putting them immediately in the minds-eye of the customer which increases the likelihood of not only the purchase but a quick one at that.  Additionally, it ultimately increases profits because you’re selling more of what you have.

5- Utilize line busters- A lot of the new POS systems are coming with the added ability of having tablets or apps for existing tablets that allow you to take orders remotely.  How can you take advantage of this for your drive-thru?  Well most, not all, drive-thru visitors have an idea of what they want to order so when cars get backed up from the sign you can send someone out to take orders.  You will have to rely on your employee to articulate combos and specials.

6- Dual lanes for your drive-thru- Some might read this and think this would mean double the lanes, double the signage and double the expense.  This assumption could be accurate however there are other ways to consider as well.  Working your way back from the pickup window you could fork to two menu boards.  This way you can take double the orders but you do not have to have to have two full lanes.  Alternatively, you can have a single ordering queue which then branches in to two pickup areas.  Lastly, you could have two completely independent set ups.

7- Use additional headsets- If you have one headset in use, it prevents others from getting a jump on the orders until it appears on the POS screen.  By having a shift leader or a couple of those “working the line” wear a headset they’ll be able to start working on the orders in real-time.  These incremental time savings do add up.

8- Order confirmation board- These boards display the customers order back to them on a screen near the menu board.  You might be wondering what this will do to expedite the process.  If your order is right in front of you it eliminates the need for the order taker to say it back to you and potentially have to make changes to the order.  It also lessens the likelihood of people reentering the drive-thru to redeem forgotten items.

9- Redesign your graphics- there is a method to the design layout madness and if items aren’t easily found or there is no defining elements for various categories it will ultimately slow down the ordering process.

10- Purge your drive-thru menu offerings- This is pretty straightforward, however it is a two pronged suggestion.  On one hand, take a look at your menu and remove less popular items and slow movers to simply lessen the amount on your menu board.  On the other hand, remove menu items that take an extended period time to make.  Waiting on food to be prepared is the single most influencing factor in seeing cars begin to stack.  If you have items that take several minutes to prepare, you’re setting yourself up for long wait times and lines and disgruntled customer

Have any of you implemented any of these in the past?  What kind of results did you see?  Your feedback is important to us; please email us or give us a call.   info@origindisplays.com | 888-235-2579