As we enter into the last quarter of 2020, COVID-19 continues to ravage businesses worldwide. The restaurant and dining industry is one of the key industries affected since the beginning of the pandemic. The way people dine out has changed drastically, mainly as COVID-19 safety measures are restricting indoor dining.
As a result, drive thrus are seeing increasing popularity among diners.
With social distancing being the new norm, you might want to install a drive thru window in your establishment to leverage the latest trend and help your business survive. Adapting to new techniques such as contactless payment options is another way to increase your sales as well.
A Surge in Customers
If you are a restaurant owner who has seen a considerable dip in sales and customer presence, you’re not the only one. The overall focus has shifted overwhelmingly towards drive thru sales. Even Wendy’s, one of the biggest fast-food chains, has recently reported that ninety percent of its revenue comes from drive thru sales. Nationwide, drive thru revenue reached $8.3 billion since March this year, which is $300 million more than last year.
This data suggests that drive thru businesses are seeing a massive surge in customers. If your restaurant is not already part of the drive thru dining scene, there are a lot of things you need to make sure the operations run smoothly.
You have to ensure that customers don’t face long wait times, train your staff to minimize the time required to deal with customers and make sure everything is in place during peak hours. If the process is easy and fluid, customers are more than willing to flock to drive thrus.
Relying on Technology
Just shifting towards a drive thru business model at random won’t work out well if you’re not prepared to deal with COVID-19 restrictions and limitations. To keep up with the constant stream of customers, you need to rely on dependable tech equipment. This means both hardware and software.
On the hardware side, there is a lot to consider. For starters, 3M headset equipment for drive thrus is a must, as are digital displays. A clear-sounding drive thru headset makes the whole process much easier for customers and employees alike. This also helps in reducing contact distance between service staff and customers, which many customers appreciate. An external digital display ensures that customers can easily decide on what to eat at a glance.
On the software side, software tools for managing customer cues and digital payments are mandatory. Several options can connect to your main POS terminal. Investing in this software will allow you to reduce service time. After installation, you need to ensure that the equipment is well-maintained. This ensures that they run smoothly and flawlessly, paying off in the long run by streamlining your business operations.
In this new social distancing world, customers have a clear expectation from restaurants—steps to minimize contact with other diners and restaurant staff. This means taking innovative steps that used to be considered unorthodox before the pandemic hit the globe.
Some of the most effective ways of reducing contact during drive thru are:
- Developing apps that customers can use to order and pay right from their phones.
- Contactless payment, where the employee reaches the card terminal out to the customer for them to swipe their card.
- Provide outside service with employees placing orders into a customer’s trunk.
- Ensure that all employees are wearing masks and using hand sanitizers. Providing employees with gloves at work is also essential, but not a replacement for washing hands.
- Use ultraviolet light cleaning to ensure kitchen hygiene as it provides a one hundred percent cleaning efficiency.
Back to Basics
The most important thing to remember is that drive thru businesses owe their popularity to speedy customer service. On average, 255 seconds was the average waiting time for drive thru customers in 2019. Multiple surveys reveal that customers consider waiting for more than 10 minutes as an unsatisfactory drive thru experience during peak hours.
Train your employees properly in the etiquette of counter service to make customers feel more comfortable and relaxed. They should make eye-contact with customers when interacting with them, be accurate and speedy when taking orders, and have a friendly attitude. All these go a long way to make the experience pleasant for customers.
Stepping into the future with Drive Thru Services
Considering the restaurant industry’s present state, COVID-19 will likely continue to affect the restaurants negatively. Since the safety measures and social distancing guidelines seem to be in for the long haul, integrating drive thru services in your establishment is the smartest thing to do. This will allow you to retain existing customers and gain new ones without spending too much on marketing.