In fast casual restaurant construction planning, many corporations involve some statistics behind drive-thru impact on daily sales to make a case for the inclusion. Do drive-thrus impact sales volume, and are they worth the investment?
Without the face to face recognition of a customer, a drive-thru can add confusion without a team able to operate the system (how many times have you received the order of the car before/after yours). From the Devil’s advocate side of the conversation, there is also a lesser opportunity for brand engagement and positive interaction with the touchpoints lowered.
A recent white paper from FastCasual.com points out that “Time-starved diners are hungry for both greater convenience and good quality food, and they’re converging on drive-thrus by the billions: 12.4 billion visits in 2014. In fact, many Fast Casuals and QSRs find that well over half of their business comes from the drive-thru.
The NPD Group estimates that 50 to 70 percent of fast-food sales happen in the drive-thru lane, and this is an industry that does over $200 billion in annual sales across more than 240,000 locations.”
Design’s role in a fast-casual restaurant’s success has some striking statistics that show a significant relationship. Relative to the drive-thru conversation, a drive-thru’s design has the chance to either enhance or constrain the flow of daily transactions. Interestingly enough, companies that invest in design see 22% higher sales growth than companies that overlook this.
From JH Greene’s experience in a current project managing the addition of a drive-thru to an existing fast-service establishment, the corporation anticipates a 55-60% increase in sales volume from drive-thru additions within the Northeast market.
A combination of design and operational efficiency can make or break the results fast casual restaurants anticipate to see from their drive-thrus. The white paper I read presented an interesting guide to success in drive-thrus, divided up into all the areas of the experience important to customer satisfaction.
The first of these areas is the impression of the brand that is presented in displays as a customer drives through. Helpful guiding signage and clear, aesthetically agreeable boards will make the transaction experience more care-free and enjoyable for buyers.
Next, the psychological component that the white paper coins as “transactional influence” can still be accomplished in a drive-thru environment (attaining repeat business through making promotions known, planning for future visits due to limited time offers, etc.) Also important in the goal of influencing a customer’s mental experience is easing any confusion due to traffic flow/driving path. When a consumer is faced with making a fast decision of menu choice, there is sometimes stress associated with making a quick decision. Further nervousness can be reduced through a simple drive-thru to ease frustration and leave a positive memory.
An additional key area to focus on in drive-thru business is the brand presence. Any visual additions to displays are helpful to not only catch the eye, but also build a nice connection. Drive-thrus can surprisingly be a tool to deliver a personalized experience and promote messaging in new, fresh ways.