Looking at adding a drive-thru or a second drive-thru? Follow these four best practices followed by two leading brands.


Contactless Drive-Thru Done Right

Consumer demand for drive-thru has spurred QSR and fast casual brands to revisit their store development plans, adding drive-thrus and contactless pickup options to their new designs.

Best in Class Drive-Thru

The contactless drive-thru experience is here to stay, says Rakuten Ready, pointing to Chick-Fil-A  and Taco Bell as two brands that have rolled out best-in-class contactless drive-thru experiences across their U.S. locations.

Both brands: 1. Encourage customers to order online or via the brand app that provides a contactless payment and order solution; 2. Confirm orders via a mobile receipt or QR code shown through the window; 3. Ensure the cashiers never handle food; 4. Have a dedicated “food-only” employee who hands off food without contact.

Pullaway Lane

For maximum efficiency, brands with double drive-thru windows should consider changing the “pay-only” window to an “order ahead only” with a pullaway lane, suggests Rakuten Ready. Customers who ordered online or via the app can pick up their food at the first window and exit the drive-thru via a designated pullaway lane that shortens wait times and decreases bottlenecks.

Data science consulting firm Strategywiseestimates a pullaway lane would reduce the average drive-thru wait time by 15% and increase order throughput by 19%.

Time matters. Customers who wait under two minutes for an order are four times more likely to repeat purchase from the same retailer or restaurant, according to Rakuten Ready's 2020 Time Study.

Another possible fix: designated parking spots for customers waiting for large or complex orders, combined with a contactless carside delivery, a feature seen in McDonald's Experience of the Future stores.


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About the Author

Anna Wolfe
Anna Wolfe is Hospitality Technology’s senior editor.  She has more than 15 years of experience as a B2B journalist writing about restaurants, retail and specialty food. Read More