I used to love the old bit when late-night talk show host David Letterman would work in a QSR drive-thru. At Taco Bell, he would mess with the folks in their cars who were just trying to get some nachos. In one instance, a woman tried to order a taco, and Dave said, “The guy who was supposed to turn things on in the morning forgot, and all we have is grilled cheese. I can put taco sauce on it.” Or there was the time he worked the window at McDonald’s and asked the customer, “You know, ma’am, we’re really busy. Could I ask you to circle the lot one time? Can you just go around once or twice until we collect ourselves? If don’t mind, that would really help us out. We’re really up to our necks here.” Spoiler: She did it.

But with the restaurant industry’s reliance on drive-thrus right now, I wonder if any brand would let Dave goof around at the order window today, the publicity aside. This month’s issue of Franchise Times focuses on quick-serve restaurants: Those with drive-thrus have weathered the pandemic better than most. According to FT Restaurants Editor Nicholas Upton, Popeyes’ same-store sales in the third quarter were up 19.7 percent; Jack in the Box was up 12.2 percent in the most recent quarter; and A&W reported a double-digit sales increase in 2020.

Because of that, restaurants are reimagining store prototypes and adding an extra drive-thru lane, just to keep up with customer demand. One A&W franchisee invested in new high-definition headsets for the order-window employees. Communication is clearer between staff and customers, cutting down on the back and forth so customers move through the lane faster. “Those seconds add up to minutes and on up,” said franchisee Philip Welch. Watch for franchisees to sign development agreements to open more locations as sales continue to outperform other sectors.

Our QSR coverage also features other brands such as bakery concept La Madeleine (also adding a drive-thru to new locations), a dumpling café, a 50-year-old legacy chicken-fingers concept that is ramping up its franchise efforts and more.

You also won’t want to miss FT Editor Laura Michaels’ story on Misti McClain, one of the youngest Chick-fil-A operators out there today. She joined a Chick-Fil-A team at age 17 to earn money to buy a car. She was quickly promoted and was given more responsibility at the franchisee’s location, then at corporate. Today at 28, she has her own location with plans for another, even during a pandemic. If you are in need of a dose of inspiration, she’s your person.

Our cover story this month digs into the journey of Edible Arrangements, a 20-year-old brand founded by Tariq Farid that has about 1,000 stores nationwide today. Senior Editor Beth Ewen recently visited Farid and his management team in their new headquarters in Atlanta to see their reinvention of the brand. While their sales are up, some franchisees question whether profits will follow. After reading Beth’s story, you’ll learn both sides of the story.

We also have more inspiration with features on a “Junior Mother Teresa,” a full-time physician who owns multiple massage centers and a story on a couple who spent their honeymoon researching crepes. (Now that’s dedication.)

Every month we deliver the information you need for your business. No need for drive-thru, but you will pick up some valuable tips.

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