5 Causes for Slow or Inaccurate Drive-Thru Service

When hungry patrons pull up to your drive-thru entryway, they’re hoping to grab a meal and quickly be on their way. Many might have had a long day in the office and are hoping to come home and unwind as opposed to spend time cooking and cleaning in the kitchen.

The last thing they need is to sit in a slow-moving queue behind a long line of other cars, waiting to be served; or to get to the pickup window only to realize that they’ve been handed something they didn’t ask for.

Here are some reasons your customers may endure such unpleasant scenarios:

1. Food Prep Times are Slow

If you’re taking more than ten minutes to get the customer’s order ready for pickup, you’re taking far too long. Cut down food prep times. Overnight food prep is one way you can ensure your customers are not kept waiting. One staff member or members can be dedicated to cutting up vegetables and preparing the dough to be ready for the frier or grill the following morning.

If you notice that the time required to get your specialty dishes out the window is taking too long, you may need to consider revising your menu. With Covid-19 pushing more diners to the drive-thru option, cutting food prep times will help you capitalize on the increased volumes.

2. Your Menu is Too Large

As diners become more aware of healthy alternatives, options for all dietary needs and specifications, and locally sourced menu items, they expect to see more than just the standard, basic fast food options. In response, restaurants have expanded their meal options to cater to diners who want organic or vegan alternatives to traditional favorites.

While added choices bodes well for customer acquisition and retention, it can add significantly to the turnaround time for orders. It also increases your staff’s chances of making errors on orders, jeopardizing the chances of repeat visits by customers.

3. You’re Not Using Technology

Another reason the service times at your drive-thru may be high is that you’re not leveraging available technologies. At a time when customers are demanding faster service and have many options at their fingertips, you need to employ a point-of-sale (POS) system. Cloud POS, the next frontier of these systems, ensures the POS can be accessed from anywhere using any device. Deploying a POS will help you lower turnaround time in several ways. For one, they will have some alerts to cut down waiting times.

As soon as a customer drives through the entryway, the POS system will trigger an alert to the attendant at the window to ensure that the customer finds them ready to receive their order. The customer’s order is transmitted directly to the kitchen as soon as the window attendant receives it. An alert is sent back to the attendant immediately. The kitchen has a meal ready. By the time the customer pulls up at the pickup window, their order will be waiting for them.

Leveraging cloud POS for fast food restaurants is also a good idea because it helps eliminate mistakes in processing customer orders.

4. You’re Not Learning From Your Mistakes

A POS system integrated with CCTV can be a great tool to help you and your staff capture and analyze your service times and work on ways to make necessary improvements. The camera can capture a timestamp when a customer drives into the entryway and another when they exit. Using the footage, you can trace the origin of a service delay.

Reviewing CCTV footage can be an impactful and effective  way to train your employees to improve service times and overall customer service. 

In addition to helping you cut down your service times, your CCTV-integrated POS can help you track down pilfering employees. Advanced systems will generate an audit trail with video to help trace activity out of the ordinary. Others will issue alerts with video if they detect any anomalies.

Footage from them can aid in disputing work-related injury claims that may not be sincere.

5. Your Staffing is Insufficient

If members of your staff are juggling more than one responsibility, this could potentially be slowing down service. It also creates an opportunity for mistakes in cash handling or order taking to arise. At the very least, you should have, besides the kitchen staff, someone manning the ordering window and another the pickup window. During peak times, it is best to separate order-taking and cashier duties.

Ensuring every employee is well trained in their duties before being deployed will also significantly improve service times.

Tech is Cool, but it’s Just a Tool

A POS system can work wonders for your quick service restaurant, allowing you to streamline your operations and make your customers happy. But remember, the extent to which it will help you depends on how you and your employees use the system. Before you roll out your new POS, ensure both you and your staff are fully conversant with all its features.