You may remember the infamous scene from LETHAL WEAPON 2 when Joe Pesci's character Leo Getz goes on an obscenity-laced rant about his order being incorrect at quick service restaurant. Leo offers characters Riggs and Murtaugh (Mel Gibson and Danny Glover) some "friendly advice", telling them to "never go up to the drive thru and always walk up to the counter" because "they screw you (edited version) at the drive thru!". It's funny, but unfortunately it seems most people feel this way about the restaurant drive thru experience. They are either skeptical the order is correct or have "an idiot can run a drive thru" mentality.
Before I got in the restaurant scheduling software business, I was quick service restaurant operator. I know the importance of the drive thru, as it is generally 55% or more of the business mix. Speed is essential as customers don't pull in if a drive thru is not moving. Accuracy is more important if a restaurant want those customers back. Being courteous without being curt is another important factor. That in mind, remember these two things the next time you pull in a drive thru:
1. Tell the drive thru order taker what you want-I know you're thinking "well duh", but read this again. Tell the order taker what you want. Not what you don't want. Let's say I work in a restaurant that sell hot dogs and the customers says "I want a hot dog with everything, but I don't want slaw". That tells me I am going to put everything that usually goes on hot dog, except slaw. "Everything" meaning chili, onions, mustard and slaw. What if the customer did not know onions was included in "everything", and all they wanted was mustard and chili. They might be upset with getting onions on their hot dog! So it's always best practice to tell the order taker what you want, and not what you don't want ("I want a hot dog with mustard and chili,").
2. It's a lot harder thank you think.- If you're at work reading this, get your spouse to call you at work and have them tell you what they had for breakfast and lunch. Write down/type what they are telling you and repeat it back to them. While you are doing this, have a colleague stand about three feet from your other ear. Then ask this colleague to start a conversation with you. That's what running a drive thru is like. It's a cerebral task that requires concentration, patience and the ability to multi-task. It's not brain surgery, but it's a lot more than walking and chewing gum.
I'm not asking you to have sympathy for the drive thru person. It's their responsible to take the order correctly, repeat it back to you and verify it's correct before it goes out the window. Just be specific in what you want and have a little empathy for the person taking the order. Remember, they're trying to serve you at the drive thru.
-Richard Averitte, Marketing Director, ShiftZen