Think Fast! Is Your Drive-Thru Keeping Up With New Times?
Remember when times were simple? If you wanted a quick bite to eat, you’d pull into your favorite restaurant’s drive-thru, give your order to the drive-thru attendant on the other end of the speaker, get your total, and move on through to pay and pick up your order. Then off you went with your favorite meal. Why change what’s not broken, right? Well, according to some big chain restaurants, that just isn’t cutting it anymore. Lines need to be faster; orders need to be more accurate, and costs need to be reduced, all while maintaining exceptional food quality and customer service. So where does that leave us now? Think artificial intelligence (AI), multiple lanes, voice recognition (what?), and more. Let’s dive into some of these areas of drive-thru advancements that are popping up as drive-thrus become more crucial to the restaurant industry.
Having one lane just isn’t cutting it for a lot of the fast-food chains these days. The double drive-thru is becoming more common and some restaurants are taking it even further. Taco Bell recently revealed its redesign concept that is as futuristic looking as it will be functional for customers to order and pick up their food. The new design, fittingly called “Taco Bell Defy,” will have four drive-thru lanes, three of which will be dedicated solely to mobile and delivery order pickups. Of course it will come equipped with all the automated, tech-advanced features that you’d expect from a restaurant trying to break from the status quo.
What is the next big wave in drive-thru advancements? Artificial intelligence. McDonald’s is currently testing voice recognition ordering systems that will remove the need for a drive-thru attendant to enter the order as the customer places it. While this has been tested at 10 locations in Chicago over the past few months, there is no current timeline yet when this type of technology will be rolled out to its 14,000 locations worldwide.
White Castle is also jumping on the AI train, and is currently working on a program that will use cameras for license-plate recognition to personalize drive-thru orders based on their previous orders. They also plan on implementing digital board services that will make food suggestions based on the weather and time of day in addition to your learned personal preferences.
Outdoor Drive-Thru Attendees
While this may seem counterintuitive to some restaurant chains like McDonald’s who are trying to minimize the amount of labor costs and increase speed, some restaurants like Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks are actually adding more workers to their drive-thru process. These outdoor attendees are known for their handheld devices and can take an order face-to-face, minimizing input errors on the other end of a speaker box, and they can take your payment before you have time to get to the window.
While these extra attendants seem to help speed up the order process and give much better customer service to anyone with questions, this doesn’t increase the kitchen speeds. So, is it worth speeding up the line if the kitchen can’t keep up? That’s a question for you to answer. Sometimes being too fast can end up being a problem in itself.
Does your restaurant have the financial capital it needs to revamp its drive-thru process to give your customers the most efficient experience possible? From new technologies to renovations and even adding more labor costs, keeping your drive-thru relevant with the changing times can be expensive. Let us help finance your restaurant’s next big project by completing an online application today. After completion, one of our local loan consultants will be in contact with you to go over your options to get you the working capital you need. And, if you need help finding recommendations on who to call for your restaurant’s improvements, we have plenty of contacts in our back pocket that we’d be happy to recommend.