Did You Recently Open a Drive-thru at Your Restaurant? Here’s What You Need to Know


For many restaurants, the drive-thru service offered at their location is responsible for a large portion of their revenue. If you are a restaurant owner and planning to open a drive-thru, it will completely alter how you do business. While it can be a very lucrative, and in some cases, essential additional revenue stream, it can also increase your exposure to potential liability.

Before opening a drive-thru, you need to plan every aspect of the launch of your new service comprehensively. This article will examine all of the necessary components of implementing and operating a successful drive-thru service at your restaurant.

Set Up and Signage                     

To install a drive-thru window, you’ll first have to complete all the necessary remodeling of your parking lot and building. Any commercial construction or renovation project requires various permits and licenses. It is vital that you correctly file all of the necessary paperwork to apply for permits and licenses. Failing to do so will result in significant fines and wasted effort, as you will not be permitted to operate your drive-thru until reparations are made. You’ll also want to consider your signage, menu, and ordering systems. These elements are every bit as important as your window itself, and can be even more expensive.

Curate a Drive-thru Friendly Menu

Depending on the type of food offered at your restaurant, it may be necessary to eliminate certain items from the drive-thru menu. Food items that are large, difficult to package, or extremely messy may not be the best options for your drive-thru service. Anything that takes a long time to prepare, or requires the use of utensils should probably also be avoided. And unless you want a lawsuit, keep your selection of soups exclusive to your walk-up counter.

Foods that can be held in the customer’s hand and eaten while driving make for the best drive-thru items. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and tacos are ideally suited for this, as are smaller side items such as chicken nuggets, french fries, and onion rings. The creation of “combo meals” can increase speed and convenience for both your customers and your employees.

Hire Drive-thru Only Staff

Having dedicated employees to handle your drive-thru will make for a more efficient operation on both sides of the restaurant. You don’t want to neglect or alienate your existing walk-up customer base by having workers focusing their attention on the new drive-thru. At the same time, you don’t want your new drive-thru customers to have longer wait times because of the customers inside the restaurant. If this is the case, what is their incentive to use the drive-thru?

Staff your new drive-thru with employees who exclusively prepare and serve food for drive-thru customers. Ensure that they are trained to work efficiently, and to create the best possible experience for each customer who comes to the window. Proper training will lessen stress felt by your other employees and fulfill the needs and expectations of existing customers.

Purchase the Right Communication Tech

Most drive-thru services make use of a headset communication system explicitly made for drive-thru communications. Once a cashier at the window takes a customer’s order, they can instantly relay the information to those preparing the food. Neither employees have to leave their assigned post.

Consider a Mobile App and Customer Loyalty Program

Customer loyalty apps and programs are not exclusive to restaurants with a drive-thru. However, if you’re considering installing a service window, it’s the perfect time to consider adopting this technology. Giving your customers (whether they are walk-up or drive-thru) the ability to place their order ahead of arriving at the restaurant increases their level of convenience. Also, loyalty programs offer your customers little rewards or additional incentives to keep coming back.

To Drive-thru, or Not to Drive-thru

A drive-thru service can truly revolutionize your business and open your restaurant up to a whole new customer demographic. It can also increase your profit margin exponentially. Some fast-food chains attribute as much as 70 percent of their business to their drive-thru operations.

Planning is key to a successful launch of your drive-thru service. Cover all your bases, follow the appropriate steps, and thoroughly prepare your employees. After that, sit back and enjoy all the additional revenue that rolls in.

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