Drive-Thru Whitepaper – Continuing Evolution

By | October 27, 2022
Drive-thru Panasonic

Drive-Thru Evolution Whitepaper

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Learn the latest drive-thru trends taking place across the restaurant industry that are meeting customers’ needs while increasing operators’ revenues.  For more information, you can email [email protected]

Executive Summary

Once considered an adjunct to an established restaurant, the drive-thru has evolved into an essential business component helping eateries achieve profitability and exceed customer expectations. Drive-thrus are illustrative of a case where technology has helped redefine the dining experience. QSR Magazine cites examples of national chain restaurants that have more than doubled revenues by implementing an effective drive-thru strategy. The drive-thru has become the industry’s most popular off-premises channel having accounted for fifty-two percent of to-go orders in 2021. This growth activity represents an increase of four percent over the prior year.

Most industry practitioners believe restaurant success depends as much on service quality as it does on food quality. The speed and coordination in preparation, as well as the wholesomeness of menu items, are critical factors. Consumers have always sought speed and accuracy with a drive-thru order, but pandemic circumstances amplified guest expectations to include personalization and concise communications. From a drive-thru perspective, clear communications, accurate order entry, and secure payment processing are core technical elements for an effective operation. It is estimated that the average American will spend more than $1,200 on drive-thru food this year. This sum represents a substantial annual increase attributable to the restrictions of the pandemic.

Simply stated, drive-thru’s have become the restaurant industry’s most popular off-premises channel, accounting for more than half of all to-go orders in 2021, according to industry researcher NPD. This business volume represents an increase of four percent over the prior year. During the pandemic, restaurant takeout orders experienced exponential growth. As a result, operators need to continue supporting a multiple-channel approach to off-premises dining that also includes delivery services and order-ahead options, including mobile apps.

According to QSR Magazine, no area has seen more digital improvements than the restaurant drive-thru. Many industry practitioners claim the pandemic made the drive-thru an essential part of keeping restaurants open during lockdowns. It was the sole way to serve customers at eateries across the country continuously. To thrive amid elevated off-premises demand, restaurants have begun investing in innovations designed to maximize delivery, curbside pickup, and drive-thru offerings. These plans for futuristic store models include digitally integrated double and triple drive-thru’s to accommodate mobile orders better, and take out, with reduced on-premises dining room space. For example, consider the two-story Taco Bell in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota that according to was developed featuring four drive-thru lanes, including three lanes designated for mobile or delivery order pickups. The fourth lane will offer a traditional drive-thru experience with face-to-face interaction between customers and staff.

Download the full whitepaper here (9 pages)  — DRIVE THRU IFBTA Panasonic May2022

Michael L. Kasavana, Ph.D., CHTP, CFTP
MSU/NAMA Professor, Emeritus
IFBTA Education
Amy Fanale
Sr. Product Manager
Panasonic Connect North America

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Author: Staff Writer

Craig Keefner -- With over 40 years in the industry and technology, Craig is widely considered to be an expert in the field. Major early career kiosk projects for him include Verizon Bill Pay kiosk and hundreds of others. Craig helped start kioskmarketplace before leaving. Note that the point of view here on kioskindustry is not necessarily the stance of the Kiosk Association or