What are the best minds in fast food thinking about? “The drive-thru as an incredible opportunity to innovate,” that’s what. That’s according to a report from Big Red Rooster, which is not itself a fast-food chain, but is a “multidimensional brand experience firm” (rough translation: consultants) that helps fast-food chains, er, we mean “quick-service restaurants,” get their act together better. In the scary/fascinating world they conjure up, what is now an “impersonal, drive-around-back experience” could become a multimedia phantasmagoria of sensation and delight guaranteed to increase your loyalty to Scream-a-Burger or Taco Wowzo. Here’s how.
• “Open-view windows give drive-thru guests a better look inside.” Because if you love watching Top Chef, why wouldn’t you want to see teens cooking prefab burger patties?
• “Smartphone technology can enable preorder/prepay capabilities, support loyalty programs and store menu preferences, creating a customized experience.” And remind you how many times you’ve eaten Doritos Locos Tacos.
• “QSRs can retain guests through designated ‘park and eat’ spaces. Extending WiFi into the parking lot, providing a branded radio station or offering guest-controlled television screens enhance the experience.” The promise of this is exciting. The reality already irritates us when our gas pump suddenly turns into Brian Williams.
• “Urban living will gain traction as Baby Boomers downsize from suburban homes and gravitate toward walkable communities. Walkup windows can accommodate on-the-go walking and biking guests.” Especially at one in the morning in an urban neighborhood.
• “Auto-friendly packaging, such as lap trays or containers that fit into standard cup holders, makes unwrapping, securing and eating food easier.” Okay, we have nothing snarky to say about this, it’s brilliant.
While some of these are probably useful ideas (we’re all for Wi-Fi with our Whopper), the reality is that the best drive-thru will always be the fastest drive-thru. When they invent one we can cruise through at 20 mph and have our food springloaded and shot into our car, we’ll be excited.
Pulling drive-thru experiences forward [MarketWatch]