At the heart of every successful quick service restaurant business is speed and accuracy. Quick service customers expect their orders to arrive both promptly and correctly – especially while at the drive-thru window – so that they are able to carry on with their day or get where they need to go. After all, slow drive thru service could be the reason that a regular chooses a different restaurant on their daily route.
Increasing speed without compromising accuracy is critical. To do so, many modern quick service restaurants are leveraging the latest technologies to improve their drive-thru window efficiency and accuracy in order to increase existing customer satisfaction and generate more repeat customers.
Quick service restaurants shouldn’t wait to implement these technologies, as drive thru windows continue to improve in speed and accuracy each year:
– According to QSR Magazine, the fastest quick service drive thru in 1998 was Long John Silver’s, which averaged a time of 159.1 seconds. And in the accuracy rankings, Whataburger was the highest with 86.7 percent of its orders served correctly.
– In 2003, the quickest was Wendy’s, raising the bar by more than 40 seconds with a time of 116.2 seconds. In accuracy, Chick-Fil-A had a whopping 97.3 percent of their orders correct, an improvement of more than 10 percentage points. By 2009, Wendy’s and Chick-Fil-A topped the charts again with 134.1 seconds 96.4 percent accuracy, respectively.
Quick service restaurants continuously raise their standards for drive thru speed and accuracy to accommodate their busy customers. Kevin Pope, director of operations services at Del Taco, said the restaurant stresses the importance of time spent at the pick-up window. The company’s internal drive-thru motto is “Food beats car to window.”
Technologies such as headsets, speakers and order confirmation boards have been used in drive-thru windows for years to improve speed and accuracy. In fact, quick service restaurants have found that wireless communication systems can reduce service time by nearly one minute per car.
But what about mobile point of sale (POS) technology?
It isn’t as common for quick service restaurants to deploy mobile POS technologies to speed up their operations, but just as handheld devices, touch screen monitors, self-service kiosks and kitchen display systems can help streamline front-of-the-house service, they can do the same for drive-thru windows. And as many quick service restaurants haven’t harnessed the potential of mobile POS yet, it could give those who do a competitive advantage over their competition.
Quick services can make small, manual moves to increase productivity – such as keep bags and napkins stocked or assign each employee to a stage in the preparation process, etc. – but technology is the best way to inspire a significant difference.
Handheld devices and self-service kiosks can be used to reduce crowding or congestion at both the front counter and the drive-thru window. Rather than waiting for one employee to take one drive thru order at a time, two employees can be taking orders simultaneously to double drive-thru speed. Not to mention, it’s easier for employees to complete orders accurately when they are able to team up. And when employees have the ability to perform checkouts anywhere in the store, rather than one or two stationary terminals, quick service restaurants can increase their customer throughput.
Restaurants could even install self-service kiosks in their drive-thru, wirelessly connected to the restaurant’s POS system, so that customers can input and confirm their own order. With mobile POS and wireless technologies, the possibilities are endless.
Mobile POS in the quick service environment not only allows employees to streamline drive thru service, it allows restaurants to improve their profitability through increased throughput and increased customer satisfaction.