Howard Company Blog

May 16, 2018 | by Jean Jones

6 Questions Multi-Unit Restaurants Should Ask Before Adding Drive-Thru Systems

Drive-Thru Solutions for RestaurantsYou have decided to invest in installing drive-thru systems for your restaurants. Great! Having a drive-thru has many benefits: it gives your guests another easy way to enjoy your amazing product offerings, it gives you an additional revenue source and it increases the value of your business asset. The financial benefits are pretty easy to see, but some of the questions you should ask before moving ahead might not be quite as obvious.

You are ready to get started, but here are some things you should consider first.

1. Should Your Drive-Thru System be Standardized?

Do you really have a brand if the customer experience is different at your other restaurants? So many options can vary location to location, from the placement of the order boxes, to whether you provide the comfort of a canopy, and even the vibrancy of the colors on the menu boards. What one franchisee thinks looks great at his restaurant might be very different from what you had in mind when you started this process. Look for a provider who has the capability to deliver the same customer experience no matter where they are throughout the country.

2. Who Will Design Your Menu Boards?

Sign companies are good at producing signs, but in most cases you have to provide the art files. You could have your advertising agency produce the files, but do they know how to create layouts to maximize revenue? Do you want to juggle half-qualified vendors as you look for something that will soon be a key revenue generator? You can save time and cost while streamlining the process by selecting an experienced provider who knows how to engineer drive-thru menu boards specifically for restaurants.

3. Do You Have to Design Multiple Versions of the Menu Board?

Drive-thru menu boards come in many shapes and sizes to accommodate menu content. The components and accessories can vary as well. When you think about menu board design, standardizing dimensions and components will save time and money especially if you need to install drive-thrus at multiple locations. Imagine the expense of designing a 3-door menu board with 27 inch panels for one location, and alternately a 5-door unit with 18 inch panels for another. The menu board engineering and construction would be done separately for each site, along with the cost of each redesign added to your overhead. Seeking a single source provider for one menu board design assures brand continuity throughout your chain and a consistent layout of your menu contents within the menu board.

4. Will the Menu Board Hold Up and Will You Be Able to Get Replacement Parts?

Your drive-thru and its accessories will take a beating. Weather, frequent opening and closing of doors and erratic drivers are the most obvious hazards for a drive-thru system. Quality construction is extremely important. Not only does it add value to your asset, it makes an impression on your guests. Having a drive-thru system out of operation is not acceptable. If it looks like it is kept together with duct tape and chicken wire is equally intolerable. Make sure your system is built to withstand the elements by a provider who will still be around to offer the parts and service you need when you need it, whether the inevitable happens next year or ten years from now.

5. Can You Economize on Shipping?

You could order from several providers and have equipment shipped separately from numerous locations to your restaurant sites. Speaker boxes, digital displays, static menu boards, headsets, canopies, light fixtures, clearance bars and speaker posts are pretty standard features of any drive-thru, and lots of small shops manufacture them. Remember, keeping your brand appearance consistent throughout your chain is equally important. Using multiple resources with different construction methods and then shipping each component individually to multiple locations will add considerable cost to your overhead, not to mention a nightmare of coordination and timing with your installer.

6. Can You Streamline the Process with One Provider?

Simple answer, yes. The Howard Company is the one-stop shop and the recognized industry leader in designing restaurant drive-thru systems. We have everything covered, from the design of the menu board and drive-thru components all the way through installation. The robust warranty on all of our products offers the assurance we stand behind our products. We have been around since 1950, so you can feel confident that we will be able to service your installation for years to come.

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