First Time Opening a Drive Thru? Here are 3 Tips to Help you get Started

We know how challenging it is to open a restaurant on time, especially when it’s your first time. We are here to take on some of that burden and make the drive-thru menu boards selection as easy as possible, so you can focus on the other factors and meet your opening goals. In this article, you will find 3 tips to help you make the right decisions for your drive-thru signs!

Tip #1: Start with a Drive Thru Site Survey

Eventually, for a successful outdoor menu board installation, you will need three things: city permit, electrical supply (& data cable), and footing. If you are taking over and retrofitting an existing restaurant location, you might already rely on existing amenities.

Starting your project early on with a site survey conducted by your General Contractor will help you find out if you can use an existing footing and if the current volts/amps supply running outside is sufficient for your signage. Depending on the type of menu boards and accessories you choose for your drive-thru, you might need different power intensities.

Once your site survey is complete, you can start working on your drive-thru layout and identify which components you could get based on your location’s requirements.

Tip #2: Choose the Right Menu Boards

Now that you have an idea of what your site layout will look like, it’s time to choose your menu boards! Do you see digital menu boards everywhere and feel like this is a must for your business? Well, you might be wrong. Digital menu boards are an awesome advertising and upselling tool for restaurants. But they need more power to run and represent a higher upfront cost that you might not need.

First, if your store opening deadline is a few weeks out, your digital signage might not be ready on time. With the worldwide supply chain challenges that rose in 2021, there are significant shortages for digital monitors, especially outdoor-rated ones. Lead times for digital signage currently go anywhere from 10 to 20 weeks.

Second, not all digital monitors are compatible with outdoor use. It is critical to distinguish between commercial grade monitors and residential TVs as they are vastly different by their ability to run 24/7 or their outdoor-rated features. If you choose to go with digital menu boards, make sure you are being offered a quality brand and monitor model that you can rely on long-term. Based on our experience, Samsung monitors offer the best performance for outdoor commercial digital signage.

Lastly, illuminated menu boards might be just what you need if your menu content is concise and easy to understand and you don’t have any specials or promotional items. They will harmoniously illuminate your menu from the back, making it easy to read and attracting attention. We recommend choosing static, illuminated menu board with an internal snap frame: it is great to retain your graphic and easy to open for updates!

Tip #3: Think about your guests’ experience

You have already designed your drive-thru and chosen your menu boards: great! But did you think about adding some drive-thru accessories? They are designed to make your drive-thru experience safer and more enjoyable for your visitors.

Directional signs are great to help your guests drive safely around your parking lot. They are used to indicate the entrance, the exit, or even the wait area for your drive-thru. They eliminate frustration and stress for your customers, but also reduce the risk of collisions. A directional sign can also be customized to your brand, which gives you one more opportunity to reinforce your brand identity and be noticeable!

Clearance Bars are positioned at the entrance of a drive-thru, and they are beneficial when there is a height limit because of a canopy or an awning. It prevents oversized vehicles from entering your drive-thru and damaging your equipment (as well the vehicle itself!). Several types of clearance bars exist, but we recommend the self-pivoting clearance bars: they will automatically revert to their original position if struck.

Bollards are posts with a reflective cap that define the boundaries of your drive-thru lane and protect your building and your signage from vehicle damage.

Of course, there are many more accessories available to spice up your drive-thru, install a second drive-thru lane, improve your operations, or engage further with your guests. Stay tuned for another article with more accessory suggestions!

Now that you are prepared, you can start planning your drive-thru. Have fun with it, and remember that DSA experts are here to help!