4 Determinations to Make Before Ordering a Drive-thru Menu Board

Restaurant owners seem to have an increased interest in adding drive-thru menu boards to their locations. This should come as no surprise considering that those with drive-thrus see 60-70% of their total revenue pass through the lane. Because of this fact, people become easily enamored with the idea of what a drive-thru could do for their business. It isn’t until they pause to gather some information that most begin to realize that there is a lot more to consider than the sign itself.  In the past we have highlighted what a fully-functional drive-thru looks like which provided folks with a checklist of what is involved but does little to help them determine if A- it would be a good investment and B- what the entire scope of the project would look like as it pertains to their restaurant.  We’ll take a stab at that here.

What to do?

What to do?

#1 – Location, Location, Location   

Whether you are looking to add to an existing spot or are dabbling with opening a new restaurant, location plays a vital role in determining whether it makes sense.  First and foremost the location itself would have to have the ability to accommodate a drive-thru. On-premises factors include space and traffic flow while off premise factors would include accessibility and visibility. Ideally, you’d the restaurant would be located on a high traffic road where there is an increased likelihood of cars pulling into your restaurant for convenience.  You simply wouldn’t get the volume of impulse pull-ins on a more desolate street.

#2 – What work would need to be done?

Cutting the ribbon on your drive-thru takes more than erecting a sign and slapping some headsets on.  The amount of work that is required depends on the location.  It seems as though there is a healthy balance of those doing new-builds vs. those who are taking over existing locations.  Regarding the latter, the determining factor is whether or not a drive-thru resided there in the past.  In any event, to get up and running you’ll need two conduits run out to the drive-thru (one for the drive-thru power and another for the speaker/microphone and magnetic loop wire), potentially a saw cut and patch after placing the magnetic loop in the ground (this is what signifies that a car is at your drive-thru in your headset) and the concrete work where the sign and speaker post will be placed.  Again, the amount of what has to be done depends on the situation you find yourself in. If you are a new location or are looking to add a drive-thru to a location that has never had one, you’ll likely have to seek a permit to do so.

#3 – What products would you need / want?

In the ideal scenario a drive-thru lane would have a presell menu board, drive-thru menu boards with wings and a topper for promotions, an order confirmation board, a timer, canopy, clearance bar and a number of headsets for those working inside to ensure optimal workflow.  The reality is that this isn’t reasonable for most owner/operator locations.  We quite often suggest the drive-thru be an evolution project.  Decide what your needs are and address the want (aka wish list) after you have better analyzed its impact on your business.

#4 – What would be the total cost of ownership?

After you have addressed #3 you’ll then be closer to realizing what you can anticipate as a budget for the project.  In addition, you do have to consider the work to be done which means getting with a contractor and electrician if the needs exist (as outlined above).  To throw out a number would be foolish because every situation is different but what I can tell you is that if you are looking to add a drive-thru to a pre-established building that has never had one in the past and even with a modestly sized board and 2 headset system (new not refurbished) it would cost close to $10K.

Do you need help making these determinations for your business?  Give us a call today at 888-235-2579, email us at info@origindisplays.com or contact us here to speak with a solutions specialist.