Convenience Store News

JAN 2017

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92 Convenience Store News | JANUARY 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM EXPERT'S VIEW cant premium on the overall experience. What's note- worthy is that virtually all of the customer-experience enhancements and restaurant makeovers take place in the interior and not in the drive-thru. WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM STARBUCKS Five years ago, Starbucks' drive-thrus were nothing special, not even at parity with industry standards. The story of their rise to industry drive-thru leader- ship includes adopting a new way of looking at their drive-thru business through individual customer zones, a commitment to developing solutions based on their customers' needs and behaviors, and incorporating proprietary brand and design elements. Several years ago, by their own admission, Starbucks' drive-thrus had "hit a wall." They lacked differentiation, and customer communications were limited to poorly designed menuboards. Their vision was to find ways to think differently about the drive- thru. What could be done to speed throughput, increase transactions, provide better service, and grow ticket? What could be done to differentiate the Starbucks drive- thru experience and dazzle customers? A s a convenience store operator, you may already have a drive- thru at your stores, or you may be thinking of adding one. In either case, my intention here is to provide you with insight and direction on how to get a leg up on your competition and better compete at the drive-thru. Most quick-service, fast-casual and other food-centric brands with drive- thrus concentrate on speed of transac- tion and order accuracy. This is because historical research studies have indi- cated these to be the stron- gest needs of drive-thru cus- tomers. However, consum- ers' attitudes and behaviors have shifted tremendously in recent years, and continue to do so. Yet, the typical drive-thru remains largely unchanged from when it was intro- duced in 1947 by Red's Giant Hamburg on Route 66 in Springfield, Mo., and transformed consum- ers' dining habits. CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IS THE KEY The key to success at the drive-thru is the customer experience; going beyond speed of transaction and order accuracy to deliver a customer experience that transcends these and leapfrogs your competition. The process begins by clearly and thoroughly understanding what consumers want and need at the drive-thru in general, and from your convenience store drive-thru in particular. This coupled with your key brand attributes, equity elements and brand essence will form a strategic framework, from which you can develop a differentiated, proprietary and branded drive-thru experience. Today, when it comes to dining, no matter if it's quick-service, fast-casual or casual-dine restaurants, consumers (millennials, in particular) place a signifi- How to Compete at the Drive-Thru Operators must go beyond speed of transaction and order accuracy By Tom Cook, King-Casey Instead of thinking about the drive-thru as a whole, Starbucks views it as distinct customer zones requiring different strategies.

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