Saturday, June 28, 2014

Drive-Thru Etiquette

Service with a smile... Drive thrus are great time savers. The idea actually began in the US as early as 1930, beginning with banks and then moved on to restaurants and other establishments.  The top ranking fast food chains teach their employees manners for working with the public.  In fact, "Drive-Thru Etiquette" is the name of one of the classes at Mc Donald's "Hamburger University."  In the "odd foodie fact" category, Julia Child was a known as a "rabid In-N-Out fan." She is said to have carried a list of store locations with her at all times. 
They call it "drive-thru disgust." It's what has many fast-food aficionados fuming. The lines are stretching ever-longer out ahead of them, as a 2013 study from industry magazine QSR confirmed that wait times have increased at fast food chain drive-thru lines across the board. Thanks to increasingly complex menus and a greater focus on accuracy, wait times are now at an all time high. 

"Too many people think that when they get into their cars, they can do as they please," according to Maura Graber, who owns The RSVP Institute of Etiquette in Ontario, California. "Often times, and especially when it comes to drive-thru restaurants, they leave their manners in the glove compartment." But civility and courtesy apply as much to drive-thru dining establishments, as they do to sit-down restaurants. 

I have it on good authority (my son who worked for Tim Horton’s) that the following list is the etiquette advice that fast-food restaurants would like their patrons to practice. He personally experienced all of these scenarios except for the “line jumping”.


Try to know the order ahead of time so you aren’t making everyone's wait even longer.  Many times, orders are placed like this: “I want one muffin… no wait, two. Ah, actually, I need 12.” or “What kind of muffins do you have again?” You get the point. 

If you have a lot of people with you, try to write down what everyone wants before placing your order. This is especially helpful if you have a lot of kids in the vehicle.

Group multiple items together as you would in a restaurant: main dishes first, then extras, such as fries, then drinks. Be specific so it goes more smoothly and cuts down on mistakes. 

Turn down blaring music or talk radio when you are placing your order.

Speak clearly and not too quickly into the microphone.  It has excellent reception so you don’t have to yell. Avoid speaking too quietly either. If you have a difficult accent, try to enunciate as much as possible. Don’t get impatient if the attendant asks you to repeat the order.

Get off of your cellphone while placing your order. The attendant has a hard enough time trying to understand your order. If there are two conversations going on, chances are you'll wind up with the wrong items. Remember there’s no face to face communication.

For those of you who drive big trucks, kindly turn off the engines. It’s very difficult to hear someone giving an order over the roar of a loud engine.

Clear a spot in the car where you can set your food and drinks down, before you get to the pick-up window.

Have your money or debit card ready. The attendant has already told you the amount of your order, so instead of hunting for payment when you approach the window, be prepared.  Some customers want to wait until their food is ready before offering to pay. Both of these practices really slow down the line-up.

Position the car close enough so the attendant doesn’t have to bodily reach across to retrieve the money or give you the order.

No line or queue jumping. You’re taking your life into your hands, and that is not overstating the situation.

Don't tailgate while in the drive-thru line.  People want their space and get annoyed easily if they are already hungry and their patience is wearing thin.

Are you placing a large order, but still want the drive-thru convenience? Call ahead and let the shift manager know to expect you at a certain time and what you want to order.  The managers appreciate the 'heads-up" and nearly always have it waiting, hot and ready when you drive-thru. (Or cold and boxed up for me, with dozens of paper napkins and extra straws, like the 25 small shakes I ordered for my etiquette class students one very hot day.) 

Keep in mind that these attendants are doing their best to deliver good service and fulfil our orders. Let’s all try to make their jobs a little easier, while they are making your life a bit less hectic.

Forget Harvard... Hamburger University -- the Shanghai branch of McDonalds' managerial training program -- is one of the hardest colleges to get into, including Harvard, according to Bloomberg News.

McDonald's "Hamburger University"
At Hamburger University, 19 full-time professors with restaurant operations expertise - from around the world - deliver the McDonald’s training curriculum. 
Our curriculum is delivered using a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on lab activities, goal-based scenarios and computer e-learning modules.
Like the UN, we have interpreters working with us, and we have the ability to teach in 28 languages including Spanish, German, French, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese.
McDonald’s employees align training with their specific career paths, including development paths for crew, restaurant managers, mid-managers and Executives. 
The Crew Development curriculum is developed and supported by the professionals at Hamburger University and facilitated in the restaurant. For crew, this serves as a foundation for management and support-staff career paths.
Restaurant Managers progress their way through Shift Management and Systems Management courses while attending one of our 22 regional training centers. Once these courses have been completed, managers attend Hamburger University where they learn the additional knowledge and skills they need to run a multi-million dollar restaurant.
The Mid-Management learning path at Hamburger University is for business consultants and department heads. It builds on their leadership and consulting skills, teaching individuals how to effectively operate a business and how to coach and consult with others to run great restaurants.
The Executive Development learning path helps reinforce ongoing business and leadership skills for top management. The courses available at Hamburger University build upon the leadership competencies needed to support employees, owner/operators and sales growth. From Hamburger University

By Canadian Contributor Maria Doll ~ An etiquette coach, Maria has been conducting personal consultations, workshops, camps and seminars for children, teens and young adults since 2009.  Her etiquette program and company Leadership Matters has been featured in print, radio & television media. 

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