There are some critical issues in the QSR industry that can potentially derail new drive-thru initiatives. Interface recommends restaurant brands to carefully consider some of these challenges proactively before expanding drive-thru operations.
1. Network Capacity
Designing the physical space and logistics of managing the traffic often takes center stage in drive-thru design while the network side of the solution may take a backseat. Network design and capacity to support mobile POS transactions, sophisticated IP cameras with edge computing capabilities, intelligent ODMBs, order confirmation systems, and perimeter security sensors (such as alarm systems) play a critical role in the successful implementation of cutting-edge drive-thru concepts.
2. Network Security
Personalized drive-thru experiences are enabled only when customers share personal data and convenience is possible only when diverse payment options are supported. As a result, drive-thru concepts have opened up a world of network security vulnerabilities that need to be addressed upfront.
3. Accidents and Claims
Even successful drive-thru concepts have a problem – too many drive-thru customers and spill-over vehicle queues that potentially disrupt neighboring businesses or cause ‘drive-thru rage’. Collisions, liability claims, and employee injury (especially when walking up to cars in the drive-thru lane as done by some QSRs like Chick-fil-A) are potential issues to watch for.
4. Backend Bottlenecks
Considering the success of a drive-thru implementation is contingent on the speed of service and order accuracy, getting the kitchen operations right is an absolute necessity. Integrated kitchen display systems that are connected to the POS and inventory management system can help QSRs handle the increased order volume reliably.
5. Operational Complexity
According to the Franchising Economic Outlook report, the US will have about 192,000 franchise QSR establishments by the end of 2022. While the franchising model offers a proven brand and template for growth, key network and security infrastructure are managed by the franchise owners. This creates operational complexity as standards of implementation and solutions may vary across the chain which imposes barriers to innovation.