Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Drive-Thru Success Secrets

Preparing for a franchise convention keynote on drive-thru excellence, I spent six hours visiting drive-thru after drive-thru. Great menuboards. Messy, hard-to-read menuboards. Dumpsters wide open within my sight line when ordering. Enclosed, spotless dumpsters. Trash strewn in the lane. Immaculate drive-thrus. I saw it all. When was the last time you went through your drive-thru? What do you see and hear? It’s 11:30 p.m. (or 5:30 p.m.)–do you know what your drive-thru guests are seeing and hearing? Get out of the box, look and listen to customers going through the drive-thru. Here are a few suggestions: ORDER TAKER AT PEAK TIMES. Andrew Arvay, director of training for an Arby’s franchisee in Tulsa, Oklahoma, trains busy stores to station an employee with a headset just prior to the speaker box. It serves two purposes: (1) to suggest items and become a "human preview board" to help guests who are indecisive, and (2) to take the order of every other car. While one car is ordering at the speaker box, the employee takes the order of the car behind and calls it to the cashier. Two cars move up at a time, and the orders get placed more quickly. They wave the next car to the speaker box and take the order of the following one. Ten extra cars per half-hour of the two peak hours at lunch and dinner equates to over $200 in additional sales per day! Well worth the extra labor. GUARANTEE MESSAGE. On a recent trip through McDonald’s in Nashville, I saw a "30-second guarantee" sign. Once you pull up to the window, if you don’t receive your order in 30 seconds, it’s free. Talk about raising the bar. As a customer, I see the clock ticking and the people moving! Try the same thing with your up-sizing. "If we fail to suggest ______, you get it free." It’s amazing how well people perform when someone is watching! ACCURACY. Although not a drive-thru per se, Sonic gets my order right every time. Why? They read my order to me as it’s handed to me. Don’t just hand out a bag. Describe what the guest is getting. It allows you to catch mistakes right on the spot. FREQUENCY. Thank the guest and invite them back: "Thanks again! Next time don’t forget to try one of our great new salads!" Wendy’s in my neighborhood has a sticker on the drive-thru that reads, "See you tomorrow!" Do it right and quick and they’ll be back again and again. HOSPITALITY. Nobody does it better than Chick-fil-A. Hire friendly, model friendly, expect friendly, and you’ll get friendly. I’m not sure how long I sit at the window, but when someone is talking to me and finding out how my day is going, the time passes by much more quickly. CONDIMENT REQUESTS. Taco Bell does a phenomenal job asking if I’d like any hot or mild salsa while I’m at the speaker box. Saves time and eliminates mistakes at the window. If you’re not asking, or are asking at the window, shift it to save time and build sales: "Would you like any ketchup, dipping sauces, or an ice cream for dessert?" SELLING STRATEGY. Drop the "Would you like to up-size?" Change it to, "We feature two sizes of value meal. Which would you prefer?" A 10-cent increase in check average is huge, and it’s as easy as turning a sandwich into a value meal every 20th customer. MENU CLARITY. Why limit yourself to a set number of value meals (and clutter the menu)? At Subway, it’s a set price to make any sandwich a value meal. For $2 extra get it with medium fries and a medium soda, or for $2.50 extra get it with large fries and a large soda. Offer it with a side salad and diet soda for a set price for health-conscious customers. PERK THE PARKED CUSTOMER. Curt Archambault of Jack in the Box says always perk a guest if their food isn’t ready when they reach the window. The McDonald’s next to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando made my day in late September. My food wasn’t ready when I got to the window, so I was parked. Soon they delivered my food and let me know they added two additional chicken strips for the inconvenience. The negative became a "Wow." Curt, you were right–it makes a difference! INCENTIVES. Have contests for time, accuracy, or product quality. Talking about drive-thru times is important, but rewarding those who do it right makes an impact. My high school let us out of final exams if we had a C average or better and no more than one absence the second semester of the year. Think there was an attendance problem in school? No way. By focusing on the positive and providing an incentive to perform, they got what they wanted (students in class) and we got what we wanted (no finals). Put as much energy and effort into rewarding those who deliver outstanding speed and hospitality as you do punishing those who don’t. Incentives and contests ensure it can happen! It all boils down to speed, hospitality, accuracy and quality. Nail these four things and you’ll be a success. T.J. Schier is service professional, consultant and speaker with over 20 years experience in operations and training. Founder and president of Incentivize Solutions and podTraining, T.J. has helped numerous clients enhance their service and training programs and spoken to tens of thousands of managers, franchisees and operators in various fields. Visit http://IncentivizeSolutions.com/ for more info motivating today s employees, training today s generation and delivering outstanding guest service; or http://podTraining.us/ , a unique new system and the foundation of i-learning - using the device of today s generation, the iPod - to train your workforce.

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