In a previous article, we looked at security, access and reliability as the three pillars upon which any successful drive-thru experience is built. In this article, we’re going to get down into the weeds of drive-thru execution and what considerations businesses need to make when planning and implementing drive-thru capabilities.
Lane One Drive-thru
This is the closest your customers will be to your staff, and as a result, means your staff is the most vulnerable. Consider bullet-resistant glass for any windows and make sure any drawers include safety features (such as manual flip locks and teller/inside doors that automatically close when the drawer is fully extended) that would prevent someone with a gun from reaching through the drawer and firing inside the building.
Drive-thru vs. The Elements
If you are installing lane-one drawers, your staff and your building will also be exposed to the elements. This isn’t a big deal if you’re in a pleasant climate, but in some regions, a drawer opening can allow frigid air into the building. This is not only uncomfortable to your staff, but can do a number on your energy bill as well when you consider the number of transactions you execute in a given day.
Businesses need to consider how drawers and windows seal to protect against the elements when they are closed. Drawer bin heaters can help keep the drawers themselves warm, while teller/inside doors that automatically close when a drawer is fully extended can help block cold air from getting in the building.
It’s not just the building and staff you need to worry about when it comes to the elements. The equipment itself is left vulnerable in certain conditions. For example, if you’re building is near the ocean, your equipment is going to be susceptible to rust and breakdown. Consider powder coating for transaction drawers as a way to combat potential damage from exposure to damp, salty air.
Remote Lane Drive-thru
There’s no greater waste of space than dead drive-thru lanes (from our perspective, anyway!). That’s property and equipment you’re paying for that’s not creating value for you. Remote lane systems, more than any other piece of drive-thru equipment, present the biggest challenge. You’re relying on power sources and tracks or tubes to move goods through structures over a distance (relative to drawers). That’s asking a lot.
Pick a system with as few components as possible – the less your system relies on, the less maintenance it should need. Too often, businesses treat remote lane systems like a burden rather than a resource and they put off regular maintenance. When the system goes down, there’s no guarantee a service provider or technician is going to get to it in a timely manner (that’s just the nature of the beast). A simple check-up every six months can prevent days—or even weeks—of downtime and lost revenue.
When your remote lane system is working, it needs to ensure the cargo or goods it’s carrying are safe from the elements and from the system itself. Ask your vendor if the carrier/container being transported is environmentally sealed, specifically if it is engineered to prevent condensation from getting in the carrier. A sealed carrier is also going to prevent small items like coins or credit cards from falling out of the carrier while in transit.
Audio, Video and Everything Else
Sound Like You Care
It doesn’t matter how many lanes your drive-thru offers, quality audio, at the very least, is a must. It’s really tempting to settle for the cheapest option when considering audio components and solutions, but we (Bavis) get so many calls, emails, etc. asking us about options to upgrade audio quality because ambient noise around the location of the business makes it difficult to hear customers. Consider enhanced audio modules that work to cancel out ambient/background noise to improve the experience for customers and your staff alike.
Creating an Experience
Just like audio, quality video, vehicle detectors and credit card mounts only add to the drive-thru experience. They improve security, responsiveness, and overall quality of service, and subsequently expedite drive-thru lines. Customers don’t care what kind of drawers you use or what conveyor system you have; when they have a choice, those factors impacting experience are going to be what ultimately bring them back to your business.
Drive-thru Requires a Strategic Mindset
Drive-thru isn’t just about buying whatever equipment and watching the cash come in. It’s a considered approach to a very specific type of customer experience. Explore all of the options and understand that you are making an investment that doesn’t end after installation. If you do that, you’re going to maximize the value you get from every lane you open.