5 ways to fine-tune your drive-thru during COVID-19

Published April 14, 2020

For restaurants with a drive-thru, it’s more than just your main channel for order delivery at the moment—it's also your easiest way to drive a great guest experience. One way to achieve this is to maintain or exceed your drive-thru service speed while increasing the safety of your customers and staff. Here are five ways you can “fine-tune” your drive-thru experience to do just that.


1. Encourage online and mobile ordering

Drive more online or mobile orders in the drive-thru by using signage and your digital channels to let customers know this convenient option is available to them. Not only does it save precious seconds by having customers place orders before arriving at your restaurant, but it also removes any friction from the payment experience since guests won’t need to hand their card or cash to anyone at the window.


2. Wear gloves and masks

Consider providing disposable gloves for your staff, encouraging anyone who is packaging and delivering food to wear them at all times. You can also encourage your staff to wear masks as a further safeguard when interacting with guests at the window. In addition to protecting both your staff and guests from any virus transmission, these changes are an important—and highly visual—way to help your customers feel confident that their food was prepped, packaged and delivered with concern and care.


3. Drive a safer payment experience at the window

Right now, everyone is much more aware of potentially contaminated surfaces, and consumer credit cards are no exception. For guests who are paying at the window, you can give them more control of the transaction. If possible, consider positioning your payment terminals so guests can swipe or dip their credit cards themselves. And if your payment terminals accept NFC transactions, you can encourage your customers to use their preferred mobile wallet; this enables a true “contactless” payment. Finally, if handling cash, you can remind your staff to change their gloves and wash their hands frequently.


4. Divide staff responsibilities at the window

Rather than having one person responsible for handing food to the customer and accepting payment, consider splitting these responsibilities between two staff members. This provides an extra security measure as well as an additional reassurance to the guest, as the person taking payments will not have touched the food packaging.


5. Regularly sanitize hands, equipment and packaging

Current health guidelines say that frequent handwashing is imperative for customer-facing staff. It’s a good idea to clean and sanitize your kitchen equipment constantly, including your POS terminals, using cleaners that have been determined to be effective against the coronavirus. 

For quick-service restaurants drive-thrus, the difference between success and failure can be measured in seconds. And, during COVID-19, it’s more than a primary source of guest interactions—it’s the window showing guests how you’re implementing safety measures and protecting them during this time. By being thoughtful about your drive-thru strategy, you can drive throughput and encourage safety…at the same time. 

For more resources, articles and tips on managing your restaurant through the outbreak, visit  


Coronavirus Response Resources for Restaurants

3 things to consider when pivoting to online ordering

5 ways to fine-tune your drive-thru during COVID-19

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Marketing your restaurant’s takeout and delivery services

Moving your restaurant POS to facilitate curbside operations

Optimizing your menu to simplify off-prem ordering

Reoptimizing your restaurant layout to better support takeout and curbside operations

Restaurants: Frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19

Restaurants: How to communicate to your customers during the COVID-19 outbreak

Restaurants: Positive trends in China

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Third-party food delivery and off-premise ordering amid the Coronaviru pandemic

Trusted resources you can lean on to stay informed during COVID-19


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