[:en]Will Drive-Thrus Be the Next Big Thing for C-Stores? [:]

[:en]Aside from delivery, what could be more convenient than a drive-thru option at your local c-store?

On the surface, a drive-thru makes a lot of sense for many c-stores. But, something appearing to make sense, and whether the market actually will make use of it, are two very different things.

Initially, what do you think? Would a drive-thru make sense for stores in your chain?

In December, renowned c-store chain Wawa opened its first drive-thru location in Westampton, New Jersey. Subsequently, they’ve opened a few more and added a curbside pickup option at some c-stores as well.

Initially, its drive-thru location in Morrisville, PA has a healthy 4.4-star Google review rating. Initial feedback on the drive-thru itself has been extremely positive, if you read through the comments.

The only negative comments were on minor mishaps unrelated to the drive-thru itself.

As you might expect, customers like the speed, the convenience of ordering through their app and having their order ready on arrival, and the good customer service they get from the staff.

But Wawa’s Drive-Thru Idea Wasn’t Inspired by COVID

In fact, the concept of using drive-thrus had been considered for some time. It was really more about increasing convenience and operational efficiency.

Serving customers through a single drive-through window reduces labor and allows you to focus more on your behind the scenes operations.

Other area c-stores have liked Wawa’s idea, so they have implemented their own drive-thrus also.

That Said, Drive-Thrus Don’t Necessarily Make Sense for All C-Stores

It’s actually fairly challenging to pull off a successful drive-thru experience. For example, customers need to know all of your menu options fairly well prior to using your drive-thru.

If they don’t, then they arrive confused and asking questions. They have a hard time making a decision. And suddenly, you have yourself a long line of cars and angry and annoyed customers.

And now, since employees do the shopping for the customers, your c-store takes on the risk of purchasing the wrong items. And it also costs you more labor to assemble what your customers order, whether it’s prepared food or just a quick run on food items they need now.

Since you don’t charge your customers for that labor, you run the risk of operating at a loss if you don’t coordinate this service well.

So if you do decide to add a drive-thru option for your c-store, you have to plan every detail of the logistics right. Otherwise, you run the risk of an embarrassing failure.

Is a drive-thru right for you? Only you can decide. For now, you know what to consider.[:]