How Quick-serve Restaurants are Managing in New Reality of “No Touch/Reduced Touch”

How Quick-serve Restaurants are Managing in New Reality of “No Touch/Reduced Touch”

In a matter of just a few weeks in March 2020, due to the current health crisis, 100% of restaurants across the country were required to close their doors to in restaurant seating. Simultaneously they had to instantaneously pivot their way through serving their customers through a “No Touch/Reduced Touch” drive-thru. In this article we will highlight some of the key industry changes, how restaurants are beginning to adapt to the current model of interaction with customers, and some of the ways Honeywell is helping.

Changes in the Industry

Quick-service restaurants have seen an 11% increase through March 2020.1 These same restaurants have experience almost 100% shift in sales coming from drive-thru and digital ordering. For example, Wendy’s reports that their drive-thru business has grown to approximately 90% of our overall sales mix seen their digital business grow to 4.3% of sales compared to 2.5% of sales in 2019. 2

Overnight Reality of “No Touch/Reduced Touch”

While consumers and food service industry are struggling to adjust to the current "no-touch/reduced contact" world, restaurants are caught in the middle. They are navigating how to care for their teams and businesses while take measures to help protect the spread of pathogens between staff and customers. For example:

Quick-Service Restaurants. Over the last several years, quick-service restaurants have been refining their processes to speed up drive-thru, pickup and delivery services to meet consumer demands. With the national closure, quick-service restaurants have been able to manage the transition. However, it is still a work in progress of how to best manage a reduced or contactless interaction between staff and customers.  For example,

  • McDonalds, in 14,000 U.S locations, has temporally shutdown seating and play areas and moved all operations to carry-out, drive-thru, and/or delivery. In addition, they are establishing contactless service and creating ways to get food made and handed off to customers with any contact. They have increased cleaning and made sanitizer available and have adopted social-distancing guidelines. 3 4
  • Chick-fil-A have temporarily closed dining room seating. Customers can still purchase items by utilizing the restaurants’ drive-thru, takeout, delivery, or mobile order options. Team members should wash their hands a minimum of every 30 minutes and every time they interact with cash. They also are frequently disinfecting other items they may touch. Customers are being encouraged to swipe their own credit/debit cards for payment and utilize mobile ordering and mobile payment through the Chick-fil-A App. In addition to drive-thru and curbside pick-up options, delivery is available at many Chick-fil-A restaurants. 5
  • Starbucks has taken away seating at all stores nationwide and closed some locations in high-social areas, such as college campuses and shopping malls. Customers can still walk up and order at the counter. Some stores have designated order-ahead areas. In addition, they will be temporarily closing stores or reducing hours in communities like Seattle and New York, which have high clusters of virus cases. 6
  • MOD Pizza has eliminated in-store dining and moving to takeout, pickup, and delivery only. Patrons can still come into the store to order but will need to take food and exit the location once it is prepared. Online orders will be waiting for customers near the front door at their new "Superfast Grab & Go" pickup spots. MOD is also only accepting credit card payments on phone orders, and will temporarily be open from 11:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. 6

Handheld Secondary Scanning Devices.  While drive-thru options have the ability to minimize contact, there is still an exchange of personal items such as coupons, smartphones, and gift cards. Restaurateurs are accelerating their evaluation and deployment of dedicated secondary scanning devices to address this.

With a secondary scanning solution, the customer can simply hold out their personal item and the drive-thru cashier can use the barcode scanner to read the presented information without touching that personal item. This allows the customer and drive-thru cashier to minimize contact. Without a secondary scanner, the employee would be forced to take the coupon or personal item and either hand-key or conduct an additional scan into the system leading to increased touch and wait times.

Honeywell Solutions for Quick-serve Restaurants “No Touch/Reduced Touch”

Honeywell has a lot experience when it comes to developing and providing secondary scanner solutions that are especially suited for “No Touch/Reduced Touch” environments such as drive-thru. In these scenarios, scanners are often dropped, exposed to bad weather conditions, and can be roughly handled by the staff. Some restaurateurs prefer tethered, so drive-thru cashiers can’t drop the scanner out of the window, while some preferred cordless. Whatever the situation, Honeywell has the solution. Honeywell offers the

  • Honeywell Xenon Extreme Performance (XP) 1950g corded and 1952g cordless barcode scanners with best-in-class scanning of 1D and 2D barcodes under all conditions – cracked screens, dimly lit screens, and direct sunlight. The 1952g cordless version allows the flexibility of a mounted base and prevents cables being dragged through the serving area.
  • Honeywell’s Xenon Extreme Performance (XP) 1952g-bf is a battery-free version that is another option for drive-thru environments as it allows cashiers to remain untethered. It is ready to perform approximately 450 scans on a single 60-second charge freeing the restauranteurs from managing batteries.
  • Xenon Extreme Performance (XP) 1950h/1952h/1952h-bf is the healthcare version with the same scanning capabilities and made of disinfectant-ready plastics which are built to withstand the effects of harsh cleaning agents and help minimize the spread of infectious disease.
  • Honeywell Vuquest 3320g is a small, mountable scanner for restauranteurs that prefer the scanning be conducted by the customer rather than their drive-thru cashiers. Restaurateurs can then mount the scanner in a weather proof enclosure such as the menu board or at the drive-thru window. Drive-thru cashiers can then prompt the customer to present their personal item to the scanner at the enclosure or at the drive-thru window.
  • Honeywell as a Service. In recent days, organizations wishing to quickly add devices like mobile computers, scanners, and mobile printer solutions have inquired about financing to preserve cashflow. Honeywell-as-a-Service is an offering that helps you navigate technology challenges. It provides you with an innovative approach to acquire software, hardware, and services and pay for them through a monthly payment with no upfront capital outlay.

    Honeywell’s lineup of barcode scanners offers a safer alternative, while allowing for increased cashier productivity. Their ability to accurately read 1D and 2D barcodes the first time eliminates wasted seconds from every transaction, while minimizing unnecessary contact, and allows for servicing of more customers. Honeywell’s barcode scanners are simple to integrate with existing IT infrastructure, shortening ramp up times and getting critical tech in place to meet today’s demand.

“No Touch/No Contact” Could be Here to Stay

Industry experts believe consumer attitudes will continue to favor the “no-touch/no contact” in the post crises environment.  As a result, restaurants will take their current experiences and apply them to establishing: 7

  • More efficient take-out & curbside pick-up: Curbside pick-up will become more popular as it permits the operator to have better control over quality of customer service, better food quality, and limits consumer-staff interaction. It is also perceived as safer (and more sanitary) than third-party delivery.
  • New investment in take-out, drive-through & delivery units: Operators building new units will most likely include a drive-through, designated take-out/curb-side service, and kitchen operations to support off-premise eating. Operators will be sure to invest in improving these types of operations to be able to weather similar crisis events.
  • Fast casual app-only drive-thru pick-up: In these units, consumers will pick-up their orders in a drive-through after ordering remotely on an app. This is "No-Touch-Convenience" that operators will most likely be asked to embrace. These types of restaurants will do without dining rooms or order windows.

Contact a Honeywell Solutions Expert today!  Call 1-800-934-3163.

Visits to quick-service restaurants up 11% nationally since COVID-19 outbreak
2 The Wendy's Company Provides Update on COVID-19 and Actions Taken
3 McDonald’s and Starbuck are Taking More Steps to Protech Workers’ Health
4 COVID-19 will forever change the foodservice industry
Chick-fil-A Coronavirus Updates
6 How McDonald's, Chipotle, and Other Fast Food Chains Are Responding to the COVID-19 Outbreak
7 COVID-19 will forever change the foodservice industry

Barry J. Ewell

Barry J. Ewell is a Senior Content Marketing Communications Specialist for Honeywell Industrial Automation. He has been researching and writing on supply chain topics since 1991.