The drive-through window has emerged as a potential savior for the restaurant industry. While ongoing COVID-19 conditions have dramatically reduced sales across the foodservice industry, the use of drive-through delivery has increased by more than 40%.
At a time when customers are trying to maintain social distancing and limit their exposure to shared surfaces and objects, contactless drive-through services offer a safe, simple, and fast way for them to continue enjoying the food they love.
Fortunately for restaurant owners and managers, the digital tools and business practices necessary to adapt to this potential drive-through salvation are well within reach.
A Contactless Drive-Through Lifeline
The biggest names in QSR that are bearing the brunt of the $94 billion COVID-induced sales downturn are using mobile ordering, reduced menus, and contactless payments to increase the speed of service while letting their diners stay within the comfort of their own cars.
The same solutions and rewards are available to any restaurant or quick-service outlet willing to embrace the digital trends of the 2020s. To transition to a contactless drive-through experience, you need to answer four essential questions:
- How will customers place their orders?
- How will customers collect their food?
- How will customers pay for their meals?
- How will your kitchen adapt to drive through?
Finding practical, working answers to these questions opens up the potential to maintain contact with your regular customers, attract new customers, and streamline your restaurant so that every possible dollar is kept on your bottom line.
How Contactless Drive-Through Can Help
Simplicity is the key ingredient to profiting from a drive-through service. McDonald’s was able to increase the speed of service through its drive-through windows by about 10% primarily by reducing their menu’s complexity. Faster service results in happier customers and greater sales volumes through peak periods of the day.
Restaurant managers can find similar savings by simplifying their own services. A simplified drive-through menu, for example, reduces the spend on ingredients and makes it easier to buy in cost-effective bulk. You can further decrease waste by:
- Implementing online apps in place of in-store menus.
- Replacing cutlery, plates, and the associated cleaning bill with disposable containers and delivery bags.
- Streamlining your process down to a single customer exchange point.
Most profitable of a drive-through service’s advantages, however, is the fact you can maintain a connection with your diners despite COVID concerns and enforced restrictions.
Answering the 4 Critical Contactless Drive-Through Implementation Questions
Before you begin drafting your contactless drive-through strategy, you must first answer the following questions:
1. How Will Customers Place Their Orders?
Online ordering is one of the cornerstones of 2020s foodservice. Every restaurant needs a mobile-friendly internet presence to expand revenue, attract customers, and streamline sales. It’s also one of the easiest ways to transition to drive-through service.
The goal is to recreate your menu in an easy-to-use, logical display that lets a customer tap their way through ordering an entire meal. This includes making room for modifications and dietary needs, as well as accommodating specials that maximize kitchen resources. This system needs to be integrated with your existing order process so that the kitchen, and any related beverage or dessert stations, are notified of the time-sensitive instructions.
Setting up a website can be complicated, but there are experts available that can build you a digital connection that fits in with the technology you already use to run your restaurant.
2. How Will Customers Collect Their Food?
A drive-through doesn’t have to be a window. Any existing point of contact between your staff and customers can be updated to accommodate a quick transfer of food. You can meet customers in a designated parking spot, set up a table near your main entrance to create a new point of exchange, or repurpose supplier and produce delivery entrances to reduce the distance between the kitchen and customers.
No matter which method you decide to use, try to make use of your digital connections to alert the kitchen to your customers’ presence and to inform takeaway diners of when their meal is ready. The convenience of a contactless drive-through solution is dependent on a steady flow of service.
3. How Will Customers Pay for Their Meals?
Contactless payment is certainly the easiest part of the drive-through experience to implement. The vast majority of restaurants are already equipped to deal with the range of digital payments increasingly favored by customers, including discrete mobile POS technology and third-party apps such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. Online payments should be made available at the point of ordering through your digital platforms, but if you need to take in-person transactions, there are a number of hardware solutions that can be presented to a waiting car or handled through a window.
4. How Will Your Kitchen Adapt to Drive Through?
Operating during COVID means closely adhering to the guidelines of all local authorities relating to social distancing, face masks, and other requirements. The foodservice industry faces the highest of standards from regulators and customers, so make sure you know your local area’s rules.
The rest of the transition is limited to streamlining the menu. Try to simplify things down to the most popular dishes and those that share common ingredients. This reduces spend and the number of people handling food across the kitchen.
By simplifying service down to the crowd-pleasing favorites that can be produced quickly and cost-effectively, you can use 2020s digital technology to maintain a sustainable relationship with your diners and survive the worst of the pandemic conditions.
Contactless Drive Through to the Rescue
Drive-through service offers customers convenient access to the food they love during a time of hardship and uncertainty. Being able to offer a streamlined version of the restaurant experience now can go a long way in building a lasting relationship with diners once conditions ease.
By using the technology already at hand and getting creative with the way you connect with your customers, you can emerge from current conditions with a brand new revenue stream and a more profitable way of working.
In a period of change, talech has a number of POS solutions that can help your business adjust operations smoothly. From reaching new audiences to engaging with your existing customers more often, we give you the tools to adapt quickly and with confidence.
Want to learn more about contactless drive through payment options?