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Moe's Digital Drive-thrus Pushed by Off-premise Growth


Across the restaurant industry, about 75 percent of all restaurant meals are eaten outside of the four walls of the restaurant. Historically, QSR has gotten the bulk of those off-premise dollars via the drive-thru. 

As fast-casuals face greater competition and less retail traffic, they're taking note. Even Chipotle is considering the addition of drive-thrus. Ahead of the burrito giants, however, Moe's Southwest Grill has been adding drive-thrus bit by bit. And now the burrito brand is rolling out touchscreen drive-thru kiosks to further enhance convenience in two scenarios. 

"As you know, with the brick and mortars building less, you're seeing less traffic," said Moe's President Bruce Schroder during the 2017 Franchise Times Finance and Growth Conference. "You're finding yourself in this area where there is a majority of food and a drive-thru can set you apart because you're a little more convenient. The other scenario is if it's a lunch-oriented location within a trade area, obviously consumers are much more concerned about speed of service."

Schroder said given the 20 ingredients and portion options that make up the "20 quintillion options," a standard drive-thru system just wouldn't cut it. 

"The touchscreen and the process really help you go though that," said Schroder. "It's very visual, so that helps a lot and it's flexible so you can choose portions."

But with all those options, even a streamlined ordering process could be really slow. Schroder said, however, that he's currently seeing order times of right around two minutes. For comparison, McDonald's sees around three minutes on average. For the complexity, the speed of service is impressive, especially to anyone who has been stuck behind a new kiosk customer. 

Keeping past orders in a massive CRM attached to loyalty, email and phone numbers keeps things flowing for those previous customers. Online orders can be picked up via the drive-thru as well. The delivery lane also enables small-order catering, a middle ground that the brand had difficulty addressing as it was unprofitable to deliver. 

Currently the company has five such touchscreens, but Schroder said he hopes the technology will be in 10 percent of future developments. The technology and second line add about $150,000 to development costs. And while he's reticent to share the exact bump, he said there is a notable sales lift. 

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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