FROM THE BLOG  |  July 20, 2022

How Drive-Thrus Fuel Efficiency

Highlighting the continued value of investing and reinvesting in drive-thru experience

Tropical Smoothie Cafe, LLC

Drive-thrus served as the perfect remedy across the restaurant industry as the pandemic took hold in 2020. They proved instrumental in providing alternatives for consumers to collect their orders safely. Investing and reinvesting in drive-thrus is more crucial now than ever as consumers have grown accustomed to increased convenience. 

The Resurgence of the Drive-Thru

Shortly before the end of 2019, the drive-thru model was in decline. Many localities began to reconsider their existence altogether. By the end of 2019, a dozen major cities across the US and even more in Canada had banned the new construction of drive-thrus.

When the pandemic hit, in-store purchases were limited or shut off completely, leaving consumers with few choices. By Q3 of 2020, a survey suggested that while 70% of diners were unwilling to wait more than 6 minutes for in-store pickup or carryout, almost 40% of diners felt drive-thrus were the safest way of engaging with staff members.

To-Go is Here to Stay   

The pandemic has set a precedent for convenience, and consumers have grown to expect faster on-demand service. Whether in-store pickup, carryout, or drive-thrus, the “on the go” way of life has become the standard for many. Drive-thrus are an excellent avenue to divert increased demand for quick service, allowing quick-service restaurants to be even faster. The ability for customers to make a short pit stop without ever having to leave their car makes it ideal for just about anyone. Plus, diners often prefer drive-thrus since they do not carry an additional fee, like most pickup and delivery services.

About 1 in 3 US consumers have used a drive-thru since the beginning of the pandemic, a near 50% rise in overall traffic since Q1 of 2020! Additionally, 90% of Americans today prefer curbside and drive-thru instead of going inside a location and on average spend $1200 in drive-thrus every year. Some large corporations have attributed sales increases of over 70% to the increased prioritization of customer safety. Drive-thru tips have also seen an increase of roughly 25%. Therefore, continuing to invest in the drive-thru and curbside collateral has never been more important for restaurant operators, for increases in both same-store sales and employee compensation.

Signage and Integration are Everything

Having access to all the resources your location needs is essential and integrating those resources is everything. Drive-thrus are only as successful as the processes running in the background; if your operating procedures are off, your customers will be the ones who suffer. With the help of UMI’s custom brand portal, S.N.A.P. PlatformTM, you and your operators gain instant access to a plethora of up-to-date trade area insights and customizable marketing templates that can be used to enhance your customer’s drive-thru experience.  

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that great signage works. Whether it’s promotional banners, yard signs, window clings, or easily updated menu boards, having better signage helps minimize confusion and ultimately helps you and your operators maximize drive-thru sales. That’s why we’ve developed a one-stop-shop with everything you and your operators need to equip drive-thrus properly. If you feel like your brand is missing a reliable source of additional revenue or hasn’t quite cracked the drive-thru code, drop us a line. You may be shocked to learn simple tactics can make a big difference.