3 Common Drive-Thru Issues And How To Fix Them

Anyone who has experience long waits at the drive-thru can attest to the frustration, but a back backed-up drive-thru may be causing more problems for restaurant owners than realized. A messy customer experience and a backed-up drive-thru can be like a gridlock downtown, with cars unable to clear due simply to the sheer amount of traffic and customers getting impatient – eventually looking for clean escape.

Fortunately, there are many ways you can eliminate some of these slowdowns and keep things running smoothly. And besides improving your customer service, the increased speed and efficiency will also increase your output and bottom line.

So, what are the top quick serve restaurant (QSR) drive-thru issues and how can you overcome them? Here’s our take on the matter:

Slow Service

No one likes waiting, especially at a QSR. After all, most of your drive-thru customers are looking to save time by staying in their car, not receive slower service than if they parked and simply walked in. Sometimes it is unavoidable to keep customers waiting for their food, but avoiding preventable slowdowns can keep those problems to a minimum.

The Fix

  • Write a great schedule, including an accurate forecast of demand.
  • Make sure the drive-thru station is well stocked and always has items it needs.
  • Keep food prep going and make sure that as soon as a product gets low, more is being made.
  • The drive-thru starter and finisher stations should always be occupied. If an employee needs to step away, make sure somebody else is ready to take over.
  • Always have an order taker and a cashier during peak times, as one person can easily become overwhelmed. And make sure that the right people are in the right place at the right time.
  • Keep cashiers trained. Make sure new people are fully trained before going on duty and are not put on peak shifts right away. Give refreshers regularly.

Unfriendly Employees

Your customers may only be in your drive-thru for a couple of minutes, meaning that is all the time you have to give them a positive impression of your restaurant. If your employee is having a bad day that may impact the way they address your customers, resulting in a negative customer experience.

The Fix

  • Model good behavior yourself. A grumpy manager will lead to grumpy workers.
  • Role-play guest scenarios when bringing on a new employee and occasionally during slumps.
  • Make sure the speaker volume is correct and that the order taker’s voice is not being made to sound robotic or dull.
  • Encourage employees to greet regulars by name.
  • Talk to employees before their shift to make sure they are in a good frame of mind. If somebody is particularly grumpy, consider rotating them into the back of the kitchen or to another position where they don’t have to deal with as many guests while still contributing to a productive shift.

A Dirty Drive-Thru

It is easy to pay a lot of attention to cleanliness inside the building, and less to cleanliness outside. But be aware that drive-thru areas can easily become “trashy” and unpleasant, especially as they are exposed to weather, blown leaves, and more. You never want your customers to question choosing your restaurant for their next meal because it appeared too dirty.

The Fix

  • Make sure that the drive-thru area is on a regular maintenance and cleaning schedule so it is not overlooked.
  • Personally inspect the area throughout the day.
  • Wipe off the drive-thru window, which can easily become smudgy any time dirt is visible.
  • Check that the displayed menu is accurate, current and readable.
  • Drive through yourself and check the sight lines looking inside the restaurant, making if there is any clutter is kept where the customers can’t see it.

Your drive-thru station is a valuable part of your QSR. It is often the first impression a customer has of your brand, and it’s key to ensuring that they return again and again. Drive-thru excellence can help ensure your reviews and reputation remains positive.

From exploring order confirmation boards and installing digital menus to using presell menus effectively, there are many ways to improve your drive-thru’s efficiency. The key is recognizing which parts of the ordering process need improvement and how these changes will impact your need for different workflows, design and new equipment. Contact OrderMatic to discuss how you can enhance your drive-thru experience!