Improving the Drive-Thru Restaurant Experience During COVID-19

A photo of a sign that says Drive-By and Order
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wear on, restaurants are increasingly relying on drive-thru and pickup services to continue to serve customers, implement safety best practices and earn revenue.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wear on, restaurants are increasingly relying on drive-thru and pickup services to continue to serve customers, implement safety best practices and earn revenue. For restaurants who are used to a more scaled back drive-thru, meeting increased demand can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are some simple strategies and tools that can be used to improve the drive-thru restaurant experience and earn customer satisfaction.

The Case for Drive-Thru Restaurant Services

Restaurants have been working hard to find solutions that help them provide safe services that reduce contact as much as possible while also supporting employees. Some establishments have been relying heavily on third-party delivery services, but this route presents some real risks. First, if a customer becomes infected, the restaurant, not the delivery person, will bear the brunt of the damage and blame and have to try and recover the public’s trust. While many delivery services offer contactless drop-offs, not all customers may be aware of or use this option, which again, makes the restaurant liable. That is why many industry leaders are making the argument that drive-thru restaurant services are the best option. 

Challenges of Drive-Thru Restaurant Services

Shifting to drive-thru only services means that restaurants have to meet demand in a whole new way. If a customer is pulling up to an establishment and they see a line of 15+ cars, they are likely to drive right on by. Those who do decide to wait in line expect fast and efficient service and won’t hesitate to leave if they are feeling frustrated with the pace of service. That is why it is important to come up with a strategy for delivering fast and contactless service before moving to a drive-thru only model.

Creating a Frictionless Drive-Thru Experience

Technology is playing an essential role in helping to create both a frictionless and a contactless drive-thru restaurant experience. Restaurants are using the power of mobile devices and apps, which takes 0% of their revenue share, to offer easy ordering services. Whether customers are already in line at the drive-thru or placing a take-out order from their home, all it takes is a few clicks on the Sixdots mobile app to choose their meal and pre-pay. This translates into shorter wait times and less contact.

Location services for mobile devices are also being utilized to streamline pickup services and attract customers by delivering customized deals. Customers can use the location feature to check-in when they arrive at the restaurant. Employees can either deliver the food to the car or place it on the ledge of the drive-thru window a completely contactless transaction. This technology allows restaurants to accurately sequence orders so that the food is prepared and delivered at just the right time. It is a good way to eliminate wait times and reduce contact while still delivering hot and fresh food.

Bridging the Gap with Drive-Thru Restaurant Technology

Once restrictions are eased and more restaurants are able to safely open dining rooms, technology will continue to play an important role. Expect to see more menu boards, AI integrated tools and ordering kiosks at the front of the house. Ultimately, these tools will improve service while also helping to create a more customized experience. Just because human interaction may be limited, doesn’t mean that customers still won’t want a personal touch when they eat out. Technology can help bridge that gap.

Even after the pandemic has gotten under control and restaurants are able to increase their capacity, customers are going to continue to take advantage of drive-thru and take-out options. Fortunately, some industry leaders were already exploring ways to better incorporate technology prior to COVID-19. Their efforts are serving as an example to other restaurants of how to improve the drive-thru experience for both customers and employees.  


Has there been an increase in demand for drive-thru restaurant options?
Yes, while people don’t always feel safe eating in dining rooms, they are still looking for ways to get out of the house, entertain the kids and enjoy their favorite meals. Drive-thru services makes this possible. 

What are the possible issues associated with increased drive-thru demand?
The biggest challenge is avoiding long lines that will turn away customers. Restaurants have to create fast and contactless ways to deliver fresh food.

How do I fine-tune my drive-thru restaurant experience for my customers?
Offer online ordering and payment and use mobile location services to better time food delivery and avoid long wait times.

What tech should a restaurant invest in to create a better drive-thru experience?
Mobile location services are perhaps the most helpful technology when it comes to creating a better drive-thru experience. Using this technology will help to create a frictionless customer experience.



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