Is driving–thru, the new eating out? Times are changing in the UK, with high street footfall remaining on the decline and drive-thru restaurants on the increase. Over the past few years, we have seen more and more fast-food restaurants and coffee houses pop-up as drive-thru establishments. Macdonalds, KFC, Burger King and Greggs have already established themselves in this market as well as a variety of coffee chains allowing people to collect food without even having to leave their vehicle.
According to global information company The NPD Group, there were 121 million visits to Britain’s 2,000 quick service restaurants that offer drive-thru between September and November 2020. This is an increase of 14% in comparison to 2019 sales in the same three months. This has been attributed to the Coronavirus pandemic and people feeling safer and more secure ordering their food from a car. Boredom is also likely to have played a part, with UK consumers look for reasons to leave the house during periods of national lockdown.
With many people working from home over this last year, popping to a drive-thru to pick up some lunch or dinner was a welcomed trip out of the house. But it is not just the big fast-food restaurants that are offering drive-thru services. Smaller operators such as the pizza specialist @pizza want to join in, with plans to add semi-permanent drive–thru restaurants in Edinburgh, Birmingham and Glasgow, as well as dine-in and home delivery options. It is looking as though many different cuisines will follow suit and the options in the UK for drive-thru food and beverages will become more diverse.
Uniforms and Customer Perception
No matter the size of the brand, an important factor for drive-thru restaurants is customer perception. A good service and positive experience is high on the expectations list, especially when talking to a member of staff through a window. One way in which companies can make sure their employees are satisfying customers is by dressing appropriately. Uniforms play an important role in drive-thru restaurants as they are the only connection the customer is having with the brand. If the staff members are dressed smartly in their full uniforms, they are not only representing the brand, but could be seen as a reflection of the cleanliness of the kitchen behind the scenes.
From the 17th May, the hospitality industry will be opening their doors to welcome customers to dine and drink inside. But will this see a decrease in the amount of people using drive-thru restaurants? One thing is for sure, whether it’s burgers or coffees, inside or outside, dine in, take-away or drive thru, it’s great to see the hospitality sector thriving once again.