Since the advent of the modern quick-service drive thru—some would say in the early 1970s, though the idea of a pick-up window has been around for much longer—operators have tinkered with the nuts and bolts to create a drive thru that is as fast, efficient, and pleasant as possible. Innovations throughout the years, from wireless headsets and order-confirmation boards to dual lanes and pre-sell signage, have created a better drive thru capable of handling the 60–70 percent of business that now loops the exterior of most quick-service restaurants.

drive-thru performance
drive-thru performance

Speed of service, it seems, may never be the same in quick-service drive thrus, especially among the benchmark group. McDonald’s experienced its slowest average speed of service in the history of the Drive-Thru Study, at 189.49 seconds; Chick-fil-A’s speed (203.88 seconds) was its slowest showing since 1998, Krystal’s (217.89) since 1999. Burger King was the only brand that improved speed of service over last year.

Of course, speed is still a top priority at benchmark brands, and they continue to design systems and procedures accordingly. For example, Wendy’s spokesman Denny Lynch says the company uses a separate grill and sandwich station in the drive thru to maintain its industry-best speeds, and it trains and cross-trains employees repeatedly to ensure the fastest speeds.

Still, the industry’s evolution toward more complex menu items and consumers’ purchasing behaviors signal that speed-of-service times may never return to the highs of the mid-2000s heyday. And brands are discovering that even slight tweaks to the menu or operations can have a significant effect on speed of service in the drive thru.

If operators were to formally rank their priorities, accuracy would likely be No. 1 at each of the benchmark brands. It doesn’t matter how fast you get the food out, brand reps say; if the order is wrong, the whole experience turns sour.

Along with improved customer service, menuboards and signage in the drive-thru lane can help streamline the process by making the purchase decision easier for customers, the benchmark brands say. Wendy’s, for one, is working in cleaner, better-organized menuboards with more pictures as part of its broader store remodeling

The PIMM™ Store Management System (PIMM™ SMS) provides our customers with a customized quality management solution for restaurants, convenience stores and retail grocery establishments.
The system provides a user-friendly interface to enhance operational efficiencies for managing temperature, energy, drive-thru performance, and quality control 24×7.
Speed of service is critically important to the success and profitability of each restaurant. PIMM™ SMS integrates with all of the major drive-thru platforms in order to compare and contrast store to store performance.

To learn more about our PIMM™ Store Management System please visit us or call (858) 457-8160 to schedule your free demo!

Source: QSR Magazine

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