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How To Improve Your Drive Thru’s Speed of Service

Great food and a strategic location make for a successful restaurant business. But in the era of convenience where food is prepared at a fast pace, the speed of service is also a contributing factor to a successful restaurant.

According to a survey in 2019, fast-food drive-thrus are losing about $178 million per 2,000 locations every year due to complex menu boards and kitchen layouts, leading to an increase in service times.

Fast diners grabbing a bite on a quick lunch or on the way home from work require fast service. Drive-thrus meet that need, but have evolved from simply delivering cheap and fast food to also delivering exceptional, speedy customer service.

So how can you improve your drive-thru’s speed of service? In this article, we’ll cover a list of tips on how to improve drive-thru speed of service.

What Is the Average Drive-Thru Time?

A study found that drive-thru time increase from 327 seconds in 2019 to 356.8 seconds in 2020. The study notes this could be due to the pandemic, with the increase in traffic and stricter safety standards. More staff turnover was also a contributing factor to the dip in the speed of service.

Now let’s jump into how you can improve your restaurant’s average drive-thru time.

1. Objective Setting and Tracking Management

The first step is to set clear objectives and an effective way to track and measure data. Share these objectives and data with your employees to ensure they are aware of the goals, and what needs to be improved to meet those targets.

Involving your staff in the objectives and data tracking provides a sense of inclusion and ownership. It also provides a clear picture of what needs improvements to increase or keep up the drive-thru speed of service.

2. Provide Thorough Training

How would you motivate employees to improve the drive-thru speed? By providing comprehensive training to all your staff members. From menu knowledge to operating the POS system, ensuring your staff is properly trained can minimize delays in service and inaccurate orders.

Make sure your staff understands the entire process from when a customer places an order to when the order is delivered to them. Training them to solve problems like lack of supplies or order mix-ups will also help them handle issues better, should they arise. With proper drive-thru training, your staff will be able to multitask and increase the speed of your drive-thru.

3. Properly Staff the Back of House

Once your staff is properly trained, the next thing is to ensure your restaurant schedules enough employees at the back of the house. While you can ensure staff at the window understand the menu thoroughly, it’s important to make sure the kitchen staff is properly equipped to handle large and multiple orders, to prevent long lines of customers.

A well-staffed drive-thru with diligent staff will help prevent delays in completing orders and result in helping the line at the drive-thru move faster.

4. Strategize Your Scheduling

Aside from ensuring you have enough staff for every shift, you should also consider the various skills your employees have. Some staffs have personalities or skills that can be utilized to improve the speed and service of your restaurant’s drive-thru.

For example, an organized employee should be put in charge of expediting, while someone outgoing and personable should be the cashier. Get to know your staff and their strong suits to decide how best to schedule and position them to optimize the drive-thru experience and speed.

5. Make Sure Hardware and Systems Are Working

Now that you have your staff and schedule in order, the next important thing is to ensure all the hardware and drive-thru ordering systems are working.

Poor-quality speaker systems with noise distraction can make customers and staff frustrated, as they won’t be able to accurately take orders. This will lead to poor customer experience and delays in service speed if the order needs to be corrected at the collection window.

You should check and monitor all your equipment to make sure they are in excellent working condition. Consider updating some of your hardware and systems to the latest technology to further improve the speed of service.

6. Provide Cashless Payment Options

Part of updating your hardware and systems is providing cashless payment options. The economy is slowly moving toward a cashless society, with most customers opting to pay with a debit or with a credit card.

The cashless payment option saves a lot of time, as cashiers will not have to calculate and provide change to customers. This leads to an increase in service speed and overall improvement in customer satisfaction as wait time decreases.

7. Switch Up Your Menu Board

Switch up your menu board to make items easily visible. A customer that has to read small fonts and long lists of items will cause delays in the drive-thru line. Incorporate digital signage and menus in your drive-thru (if you haven’t already) to make your menu visually appealing and easy to read.

Self-kiosks are also great options for speeding up your drive-thru service. Instead of waiting in line to place their order, customers can do so at the self-service kiosk, cutting their wait time and avoiding order errors stemming from


8. Online or Phone Ordering Options

Providing different options for customers to place their orders can significantly improve the service speed of your drive-thru. Customers ordering online or over the phone will only have to get in line to collect their items, instead of waiting to place an order with the cashier.

Ordering online or over the phone also provides an option for the customer to walk into the restaurant to collect their food, eliminating the need for them to be in the drive-thru line.


Improving the speed of your restaurant’s drive-thru contributes to your customer’s overall experience. An important element to improving speed and service is having an intuitive point of sale (POS) system. Crisp’s POS system is designed to go above and beyond just completing a sale. Its quick Kitchen Delivery Systems (KDS) and line-buster mobile ordering provide you with options to meet the requirements of a high-volume restaurant.

Brand using crisp drive thru system regularly put more than 80 cars/hr through their drive-thru in peak hours.

Schedule a demo to learn how you can improve your drive-thru speed today.

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