Using Tablets for Drive-Thru Line Busting and Efficiency

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, quick service restaurants (QSRs) have been managing a whole series of challenges—keeping drive-thru lines moving quickly and efficiently is just one of them.

Many QSRs have seen big increases in drive-thru traffic as patrons have looked for quick and easy alternatives to traditional dining out. And others are facing challenges with how to keep the drive-thru moving while adding new lanes for curbside pickups or managing pickups in the parking lot.

These are among the reasons why many of our QSR customers are turning to tablet mobile computers to improve drive-thru efficiency and avoid long lines that can drive customers away. Leveraging mobile technologies is a strategy that began long before the pandemic, especially among leaders in the restaurant industry.

For example, a few years ago, a major fastfood chain picked up on a drive-thru strategy that had been used by an innovative competitor for years. To help reduce wait times and long lines in the drive-thru, select restaurants in this chain started sending staff members out to the drive-thru line, equipped with tablets to take orders at car windows.

Specifically, the company chose to deploy Zebra’s ET5x series enterprise-grade tablets to give workers access to their point of sale and ordering system in the drive-thru lane. This allowed them to get orders into their system faster and give customers instant gratification in being able to place their order and know that it was already in process.

Ultimately, these locations started mobilizing its ordering and point of sale whenever needed, and they were able to get more customers through the drive thru quicker. A competitor had used a similar approach for years, especially during busy times when lines could easily end up snaking through the restaurant parking lot and onto nearby streets.

At the end of the day, if you can avoid those long lines, it eliminates a highly visible deterrent to additional business because many customers will see those lines and simply keep on driving to the next competitor.

Another advantage of using tablets for mobile drive-thru ordering and other mobile customer service functions is that a tablet has more screen space to present menu items and options as well as your point-of-sale screens. Workers find this really helpful in making the ordering and payment process fast and easy to execute, with fewer switches between screens.

With Zebra’s ET5x series tablets, you can also speed up the whole process thanks to its easy-to-use and intuitive Android operating system, plus 8-core processing power, memory, and Wi-Fi speed that an enterprise device can deliver.

You also get unmatched battery power, which addresses one of the biggest issues with trying to use consumer-grade devices such as an Apple iPad or a standard Android tablet.

Most consumer iOS and Android devices are designed for more casual use, not for full-shift workflows that involve order entry, running business apps, and scanning loyalty cards and coupon codes. These activities rapidly drain the batteries of consumer-grade devices, and things get even worse when you also need to run higher screen brightness outdoors.

The end result is that many devices can only last a couple of hours before needing to be recharged, but Zebra uses advanced, long-life batteries that provide full-shift power. There’s even a hot-swappable battery option so you can simply change out a battery and get even more power without powering down your device or interrupting your workflows.

The ET5x series also extends battery cycle times with 2×2 multi-user, multiple input, multiple output (MU-MIMO) technology, which allows access points to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously and shifts wireless processing from mobile devices to access points.

All of these capabilities add up to a high-powered workhorse device that’s a great choice for mobilizing your workforce and point of sale, processing orders and payments, and keeping your drive-thru moving at an ideal pace for your customers. You can also use the ET5x series in other areas of your operations, including curbside pickups, inventory management, and counter service.

If you’re looking for ways to reduce lines and wait times in your drive-thru as well as boost efficiency throughout your restaurant, a tablet should definitely be on your list of solutions to consider.

To learn more about using tablets for your QSR workflows and the Zebra ET5x series, contact our team at Macro Integration Solutions to find out how to integrate tablets with your point of sale to start delivering faster, more mobile and convenient service. Call us at 336-931-0674 or visit our contact page to get started.