Improve Drive-thru Profitability with Vision AI

Apr 27, 2023 | Blog

Have you ever turned into a drive-thru for a quick meal or a snack, then changed your mind after seeing the long line of cars? As a restaurant operator, there are few things more frustrating than watching a potential customer drive away. Not only have you lost a ticket, but that customer’s perception of your brand may be damaged. 

Surprisingly, it isn’t the wait time that deters your potential customers – it’s the uncertainty about the wait. Yes, a common customer complaint about drive-thrus is the wait time, yet research has shown that customers are willing to wait in line as long as they know how long the wait will be.


The Studies

QSR Magazine conducted a study and found that customers were willing to wait up to five minutes in a drive-thru line before becoming frustrated. However, if they were informed about the expected wait time, their tolerance for waiting increased to six minutes. This study highlights the importance of communicating wait times to customers to increase their overall satisfaction.

Another study conducted by Harris Interactive found that customers informed about expected wait times feel less stressed and anxious while waiting. When they have a clear understanding of how long they will be waiting they can plan accordingly. Furthermore, customers provided with an estimated wait time are more likely to feel that their time is being respected. This can lead to increased loyalty and repeat business.


How can AI help?

QSRs can apply these findings by implementing systems that inform customers about their expected wait time. One option is to install digital displays that show customers how long they can expect to wait before reaching the order point. A combination of Computer Vision (CV) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can monitor the number of cars in the queue, the current order volume, and other relevant factors to estimate a highly accurate wait time. This allows customers to make an informed decision about whether or not to wait in line.

QSRs can also provide customers with alternative options if the wait time is too long. For example, they can suggest ordering through a mobile app or online, or offer a discount on their next purchase if the wait time exceeds a certain threshold. This can help mitigate frustration and ensure that customers feel valued and respected.


Getting Started

Getting started is easier than you think. Since research has shown that customers are willing to wait in a drive-thru line as long as they are informed about the expected wait time, QSRs can apply this knowledge by implementing Computer Vision with AI systems that communicate wait times to customers via digital displays or pre-recorded messages. Doing this can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, and ultimately increase the bottom line.

You don’t need to go it alone. To learn more, ClearObject Vision AI experts can help.