Guide To Adding Drive-thru Pizza For Your Restaurant

Wondering if you should offer drive-thru pizza? Absolutely you should! With the right pizza POS system, you can dominate the game and generate more business.

2020 dramatically shifted the way that most restaurants operate. In-person dining wasn’t an option for months. Many restaurants were forced to whittle down their staff to a skeletal crew.

To survive in a pandemic and meet the needs of their customers, restaurant owners have needed to think outside of the box and do something different from what they had originally planned.

Instead of dining in, many restaurants took advantage of the warmer weather to offer the option to dine outdoors. And the in-person dining restrictions also gave rise to a new trend: drive-thru.

We’re all familiar with drive-thru. (It’s a model that’s been around for over 70 years.) However, the idea of shifting an in-person dining restaurant into a drive-thru seemed crazy at the first. But it was just crazy enough to work.

Restaurants with drive-thru service have reported record sales—in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. 

And, in case you’re wondering, the drive-thru option is here to stay. Continued lockdowns across the globe have forced many restaurants to quickly adapt to the drive-thru model—or shut down indefinitely.

But if you’re in an area where lockdown mandates have eased and restaurants have opened up to indoor dining, it still makes sense to consider the drive-thru model. Although we now have access to vaccines that combat COVID-19, social distancing is a lingering part of our corporate consciousness. 

There is a large percentage of customers who’d prefer to order a meal and eat in the convenience, privacy and safety of their own home, rather than in a crowded restaurant. 

Drive-thru is a smart decision for just about every restaurant type, and even more so for a pizza restaurant. As a pizza company, you are able to win over customers and turn them into brand loyalists. Offering your customers another, more convenient way to buy from your restaurant doesn’t just exceed their expectations but also increases your revenue. 

In this guide, we explore why you should add a drive-thru service to your pizza restaurant.

How Pizza Hut Added Drive-thru Service?

Pizza Hut was one of the first pizzeria restaurant chains to jump on the drive-thru trend. In early 2021, Pizza Hut announced “The Hut Lane” for more than 1,500 of its restaurants. The Hut Lane is a pick-up window that offers customers the option to simply drive up to collect their order. This move effectively turned 1,500+ Pizza Hut restaurants into drive-thru locations.

With the Hut Lane, Pizza Hut makes the pick up process even more convenient for their customers. A dedicated pick-up window also speeds up service to both drive-thru and dine-in customers. And it allows the restaurant chain to limit human contact, which is a win for customers and employees.

What powers Pizza Hut’s new pick-up window service? Digital ordering. Because many customers prefer to customize their pizza orders, it’s smart for pizzerias to offer drive-thru pickup in combination with digital ordering. 

In addition to delivery, Pizza Hut customers can opt to pick up their orders from the Hut Lane. (This option is available to customers who call in orders, or who place orders on the app or the Pizza Hut website.) After placing their order, the customer can then drive up to the pickup window instead of leaving their vehicle to go inside for carry out. 

Pizza Hut isn’t the only chain to harness the power of the drive-thru. The sandwich franchise Schlotzsky’s has leveled up their drive-thru game. In addition to offering the drive-thru option to customers, Schlotzsky’s has tweaked their menu boards to gently nudge customers into ordering easy-to-prepare items. 

Top 8 Reasons Why You Should Consider Adding Drive-Thru

Drive-thrus work for Pizza Hut, but will it work for your pizzeria? Let’s discuss the reasons why you should add a drive-thru ordering system to your pizza restaurant.

1. Convenient for Your Customers

Next to delivery, a drive-thru is one of the most convenient services that a restaurant can offer. With a drive-thru, your customer doesn’t need to leave their vehicle and the comfort of their own space. They can simply drive up to your restaurant and pick up their food. It’s less hassle for your customers, including customers who may have young children in the car and don’t want to leave their vehicle unattended. A drive-thru is also convenient during inconvenient weather, such as rain or snow.

2. Can Sell More

When ordering in person or over the phone, there’s an unspoken urgency that puts pressures on your customer. They don’t want to take too long looking over the menu or exploring specials for fear that they may be wasting time over the phone or slowing down the line in person.

But if your customers have the option to order online and pick up through your drive-thru, they’ll have more time to look over the menu and decide what they want. And that’s exactly what they’ll do.

Online ordering gives your customers the freedom to consider different menu options without feeling pressured to rattle off an order immediately. Customers are more likely to purchase new or additional items when given the time to look over your menu. It also gives you the opportunity to upsell. 

3. Ensures Limited Contact

A drive-thru will limit the contact between your customers and your staff. In our post-pandemic world, this is a huge selling point for your drive-thru service. People are more health (and germ) conscious than ever before, and many appreciate the idea of limiting contact with others. 

Drive-thru service isn’t just limited to a pickup window. Other options include contactless curbside pickup or food-locker pickup. In the contactless curbside pickup model, the staff delivers pizza to the customer’s car (trunk or backseat). In the food-locker pickup model, the customer receives a pin or QR code to unlock the food locker that contains their order.

But even if you stick to the traditional drive-thru service model with a pickup window, you’re still limiting contact compared to asking a customer to come inside to pick up an order.

4. Improves Driver Management

Your customers aren’t the only ones who can use the drive-thru service. Consider using drive-thru to speed up the driver handoff process. Instead of asking drivers to come inside the restaurant to pick up orders, you can create a drive-thru lane specifically for drivers. This includes your drivers or those who deliver for a third-party service, like DoorDash.

5. Makes your Restaurant Pandemic-Proof

By adding a drive-thru to your pizzeria, you can future-proof your restaurant. If 2020 taught us anything, it was to realize that anything can happen and probably will happen. So, to survive as a restaurant and guard against the uncertainties that lie ahead, it’s a good idea to offer multiple dining options to your customers. 

Drive-thru service is pandemic-friendly. Hopefully, we’re moving in the right direction, but it never hurts to be prepared if things change. 

6. Reduces Your Operating Expenses

Adding a drive-thru to your restaurant allows you to cut down operating expenses. For example, if you transform your pizzeria into a full-time drive-thru, you’ll save money on staffing, utility bills, and cleaning services. And instead of driving to your customers, your customers will drive to you. This can reduce or eliminate the need to hire drivers. 

7. Adds a New Revenue Stream to Your Restaurant

Not only will you save money by adding a drive-thru, you’ll make money, too. Providing another ordering and purchasing method will open up your restaurant to a wider group of people. Some people, who were reluctant to come into your dining establishment, are more likely to try your drive-thru service if given the option.

8. Enables You to Serve More People

If you choose to add drive-thru service to your existing restaurant, you will be able to serve more people at the same time. Some customers will prefer to dine in or carry out while others will love the freedom of driving to a pickup window. You can serve both types of customers at the same time (especially if combined with online ordering), which also allows for a faster checkout process.

How Your Restaurant Can Add The Same Drive-Thru Service

So now that we’ve reviewed the benefits of adding a drive-thru service to your restaurant, let’s discuss how to do it effectively.

Step 1: Check Your Local Laws

The first step is to make sure that building a drive-thru is actually legal in your city. Some cities have banned drive-thrus in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. After you’ve checked that it’s possible, you can proceed to the next step. 

Step 2: Decide on the Right Ordering System

Before building your drive-thru, choose an ordering system. Here are a few questions to guide you to the right ordering system: How will customers use your drive-thru? Will they order from your app or via your website and then come to pick up the order from the drive-thru window? Will they order in person through a menu board? Or will you have employees come to the customer’s car to take orders?

Choose an ordering system that can empower your staff and make ordering easy for your customers. We recommend our Truffle POS system because it’s able to support your drive-thru service from end to end.

Everything you need to take and complete an order can be done entirely through the Truffle POS system. That includes online ordering, in-person ordering, kitchen display, and online payment processing. Learn more about how Truffle POS works here.

Step 3: Set Up Your Drive Thru

When building your drive-thru system, consider the following:

  • The Drive-Thru Window – As a pizza restaurant, opt for a window that’s large enough for a pizza box to fit through without tilting the box sideways. Also consider a window that allows for hands-free opening.
  • The Microphone and Speaker System – If you’d like to take orders this way, choose a system that reduces outdoor ambient noise.
  • A Drive-Thru Canopy – Provide a convenient covering that protects your customers and staff from various weather elements, like rain, snow, and UV rays.
  • Window Tint – If your drive-thru faces a sunny area, add a UV blocking film to block harmful UV rays, reduce heat, and save on excess cooling costs.

Step 4: Select Your Drive Thru Menu Display

Whether you’d like for your customers to order in person or online, you should show a digital menu display to those who simply drive up to your pizza restaurant. You can also link to your online menu via a QR code that you display. Your digital menu display can be set to automatically change throughout the day to display breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. Your dynamic digital menu can also display the pizza of the day, which enables you to push a certain item.

Step 5: Provide Adequate Directions Signage for Your Drive-Thru

Make it easy for customers to use your drive-thru service. Provide plenty of signs (three or more) that indicate where your customers should go to access the drive-thru. Also, if part of your drive-thru experience includes parking, you should clearly mark where drive-thru customers are supposed to wait to receive their order. 

Step 6: Consider How You’ll Accept Payments

Will your customers pay online when they place the order? Will they have the option to order online and pay in person? For customers who order in person, will they be able to pay online, too (by scanning a QR and completing the payment online)? Or will you accept payments in person?

Step 7: Choose How You'll Deliver the Pizza

After they’ve paid for the pizza, decide on how you’d like to deliver the pizza to your customers. Will they be able to pick it up through a traditional pickup window? Or will they need to park, call (or check in through an app), and wait for an employee to bring them the order?

By working through the above steps, you can create a drive-thru experience that’s second to none.

How Truffle POS helps your restaurant add drive-thru service

As you’ve seen by now, the key to adding a successful drive-thru service is to focus on your technology. From ordering to ticketing to issuing a receipt, the foundation of your customer’s experience depends on your ability to quickly and efficiently handle their order.

That’s why you need Truffle POS.

Truffle POS can handle all of your drive-thru management needs, from online ordering to in-person ordering through digital menu boards. Our POS automatically sends orders to the kitchen display, ensuring that there’s no breakdown in communication and orders are prioritized right away. In a drive-thru, every single second counts.You need a restaurant management tool that empowers you to deliver amazing customer service through your drive-thru.

Find out how Truffle POS can help you. Book your free 30 minute demo session with us now