Essential Restaurant Technology for your Drive-Thru
There’s no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic has drastically shifting the landscape and priorities of restaurant operators. For those who’ve survived, off-premise dining has become an actual lifesaver for restaurants seeking ways to generate revenue while battling various capacity restrictions and mitigate the viral spread.
The term “off-premise dining” can refer to various dining methods. Some customers prefer takeout, opting for a contactless curbside experience. Others will go for a delivery, and then there’s that old standby: drive-thru dining. While these methods differ in execution, in principle, they espouse the same thing: customer convenience. Drive-thru isn’t exactly new, as it’s been a fixture for large restaurant and quick service chains for decades now. Still, astute operators are utilizing it more and more to serve customers in various other segments. We’ve compiled a list of essential technology and features for drive-thru technology.
Your restaurant technology needs to be feature-rich. It should be easy to use and should help turn your operation into a profitable machine. However, the most critical feature of restaurant technology is its integrations. Any operator can tell you that a restaurant is a multi-faceted engagement with various moving parts from the front-of-house, to the kitchen, to the customers in the parking lot or lobby — keeping all of those elements in sync is crucial.
It’s not enough to have powerful technology. One needs smart technology. When we say smart technology, we mean tech that can “speak” with each other and dynamically adapt to the various circumstances that can occur in your restaurant. For example, a kitchen display system that’s integrated into your point-of-sale system ensures that your orders automatically push to the kitchen, eliminating any miscommunications or problems in the “hand-off.” Plus, paper tickets are archaic and outdated anyway! Integrations lie at the heart of virtually every dining process, tracing the order from the customer’s initial placement through your entire restaurant.
For drive-thru, integrations help you stay on top of your off-premise orders without a fuss. With orders coming in from various places, even under the drive-thru “umbrella,” technology can automatically “push” them to their different stations, whether it’s front-of-house for pickup orders or delivery partners or the drive-thru window.
One distinctive feature for Drive-Thrus is capacity management. Because it’s a dynamic feature, it also functions via integrations. Essentially, capacity management can “read” your kitchen activity to generate an accurate pickup quote for off-premise diners or delivery partners.
What makes capacity management so crucial is that it can take different traffic streams and “merge” them without disrupting the others. So, take the Drive-Thru; During a rush, you’ve got a line of cars picking up their food, which kicks your kitchen activity up. When those other off-premise orders come rolling in, delivery orders or curbside pickup, capacity management will account for the busy kitchen and bump up the quoted time. This dynamic change prevents a disappointed customer, who needs to arrive, pick up their order, and allow time for your kitchen to prepare the order without holding up customers in the drive-thru. When your activity dies down, the pickup quotes automatically decrease as well.
Easy-to-Read Graphical Display
The kitchen environment is heated (literally and. figurately!) and can operate at a feverish pace. Having kitchen tech that can display your data and information in a clean, digestible format helps your staff tremendously during those high-pressure moments.
Being able to segment order types helps you optimize your stations, whether it’s the expo window, drive-thru, or front-of-house. An easy-to-read display enables you to keep the various order types well-managed and balanced.
Sticky Receipts and Printers
The rise and necessity of off-premise dining have created an increased need for order accuracy and consistency. Though curbside orders and drive-thru orders are drastically different, when they’re wrapped in off-premise packaging, they can look identical!
Sticky printers help you differentiate between off-premise orders, so you cut down on errors or those quick accidents that can happen in the heat of the moment.
Tag on touch
Another error-eliminating feature, tag-on-touch, gives your staff that extra bit of safety when packing off-premise orders. It’s essentially a “checklist” that staff must go through, item by item, to ensure they’ve not forgotten any of the essential accouterments, napkins, sauces, or sides. By going through each item individually, they diminish the chances of accidentally missing something.
2-Way SMS Texting
Finally, automatic SMS communication is a staple of off-premise dining. In some cases, diners choose to order off-premise and to pick their order up from the drive-thru. With an integrated restaurant technology platform, you can automatically communicate order statuses to customers and allow them to respond. This automatic, 2-way communication makes for modern, intuitive off-premise dining, foundational for creating repeat customers.
Essential Drive-Thru Technology – concluded.
Whether it’s the drive-thru, the curb, or the front counter, smart kitchen technology is the only path to success. Customers want convenience, and so does your staff! Look for technology with robust integrations, dynamic capacity management features, and centralized data.
You’ve read about drive-thru technology. Want to learn more about the history of Drive-Thrus? Read our article below.
About the Author
Dylan Chadwick is the Content Marketing Manager at QSR Automations. He graduated from Brigham Young University with an English degree and journalism focus and loves to write, draw and paint. When left to his own devices, he enjoys loud music, adorable dogs and documentaries about the aforementioned.