In March of 2020, restaurant sales plummeted after in-person dining was severely restricted. Fast forward a few weeks, and a new trend emerged illustrated by long drive-thru lines wrapped around fast-food locations, drive-thru lanes became the superstar, helping fast-food chains' sales rebound faster than those of full-service restaurants. In 2020, drive-thru visits grew by 27% in the third quarter and represented 44% of off-premises orders across the restaurant industry, according to the NPD Group. The drive-thru has evolved into the centerpiece of the fast-food industry. QSR businesses have been eager and wise to employ strategies that leverage this advantage as consumers flock to drive-thru lanes.
Higher volume and larger orders slowed down average drive-thru times by almost 30 seconds according to a 2020 study conducted from June through August using secret shoppers. The study also revealed that digital menu boards used by 23% of locations resulted in faster drive-thru times shaving off an average of over 12 seconds. The pandemic accelerated a need for expanded convenience product and service offerings, and chains are focusing resources on trimming time to fill orders and keeping the drive thru line moving.
As more restaurants begin to rely on this newly dubbed superstar for most of their revenue, it's critical they continue to focus on reducing wait time by investing in technology such as digital menu boards, mobile applications, and online ordering options.
"Drive-thru operations are delivering a high ROI during the pandemic, offering convenience, speed, and the comfort of social distance to consumers using them. Fast casual and traditional quick service chains have already announced expansion plans for their drive-thru operations. Drive-thru and other off-premises operations will be a major part of the U.S. restaurant industry’s recovery and future." David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor
Business owners are taking steps to adapt their operations to overcome pandemic-related restrictions and meet increased demand by expanding drive-thru capabilities and curbside services, offering online and mobile app ordering, and delivery services. Higher volume and larger orders have prompted QSRs to add additional drive-thru lanes, some designated for online or app orders, and establish aggressive goals, such as fulfilling orders in under a minute. Several fast-food chains are ramping up investments to make their drive-thru lanes more efficient by adding digital screens with predictive selling technology, integrating loyalty programs, contactless payment options, and drive-thru only locations. Many fast-casual restaurants are adding their first drive-thru lanes.
Optimize Digital Channels:
Offer Contactless Options:
Use Predictive Selling Technology
Getting food quickly and safely is a “new normal” brought on by the pandemic. Having a long-term strategy that incorporates technology to meet customer expectations can help almost any QSR.
As vaccine distribution ramps up across the United States, the popularity of QSR convenience appears to have staying power. At Ascentium Capital, we understand that QSR owners are busy entrepreneurs with overflowing plates keeping their business fresh, viable and profitable. Our restaurant financing options can help businesses integrate technology and enhancements to capitalize on growth opportunities.
To get started, simply fill out this quick form and a finance manager will contact you to discuss your business financing needs. Financing based on credit approval.The mention of or links to third-party information, services, products, or providers does not imply endorsement or support by Ascentium Capital. Individual research should be done before use of any product, process or service mentioned.