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Ramping Up Restaurant Drive-Through Sales Requires Rigorous Planning

QSR design expert cites need to carefully consider dine-in layouts, parking ratios, and more

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Step-by-step planning and close collaboration can greatly speed up restaurant remodels focused on boosting drive-through sales, says Steven Baker, Co-Leader of the quick-service restaurant team at HFA Architects and Engineers (Bentonville, Ark.). In “Reinventing QSRs—one square foot at a time,” the architect notes that chains across the country continue to reconfigure buildings and sites for faster and easier pickup of online orders.

But “adapting QSRs can be a big undertaking,” writes Baker. “In our experience, these projects run most efficiently when all parties collaborate and communicate from the outset and when key questions are asked and addressed in the right order.”

In today’s QSR sector, Baker notes, up to 75 percent of sales occur at drive-throughs, a trend fueled in part by the rapid growth of online-ordering apps from the likes of McDonald’s, Starbucks, Domino’s, Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell.

Meanwhile, fast-casual operators such as Panera, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Sweetgreen are honing their approaches to drive-through lanes and pickup spaces. “Panera and Popeyes are even testing speech-recognition software—an AI called ‘Tori’—to take customers’ drive-thru orders,” Baker writes.

But to capitalize on the demand, restaurant owners need to rethink how their sites and stores function. Click here to read Baker’s full report.

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