Recent changes to the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru made an immediate impact Monday with Operator Luke Longino reporting record sales.
Monday marked the first time the Heartland Mall Chick-Fil-A’s new drive-thru system went online, utilizing coordinated movements and modern technology to give its customers a maximum restaurant experience with a minimal wait.
“We didn’t think it ran as smoothly as we would like it, but for the first day of what we call a re-launch or a soft opening, we thought it went well,” Longino said. “We’re looking for long-term growth. We actually broke our drive-thru car count record from 12 to 1 p.m. by five cars. We’re very excited to already seeing the results of the fruits or our labor. For us, it’s all about the guest experience. We want a quick experience through the drive thru, but we don’t want our guests to feel rushed.”
Previously, the store had a one-lane drive thru with an attendant taking orders. Due to the location of the store, it could not have a traditional drive thru and, instead, an attendant take orders individually and passed the order through the passenger-side window. The new system allows for multiple attendants hopping from vehicle to vehicle, taking orders on a tablet computer, which relays it to an awaiting kitchen staff. The system also allows attendants to deliver the order to the driver-side window.
“Both of those allow us to serve our guests in a more efficient way and in a less stressful way for our guests and team members,” Longino said. “We use an ipad, or as we call it an IPOS. It’s our point of sale system … It allows us to take more than one order at a time. We can pretty much use as many ipads as we can put out there. Instead of the traditional speaker box, we have essentially two speaker boxes but giving that face-to-face customer service.”
Although the movements during Monday’s opening seemed well choreographed, Longino said the opening was not as easy as anticipated. With the contractor wrapping up work Sunday, the only day Chick-Fil-A closes, his employees had to learn on the fly as they opened the drive-thru for the first time.
“We had to thread the needle and make sure everything was done [Sunday],” Longino said. “We had around 10 contractors working to get everything done in a few hours Sunday. I could not imagine it went as smooth as it did, but that is how we were able to open up at 7 a.m. this morning. It was exciting. There was a big smile on my face most of the day. When this drive-thru started three years ago, it was the first of its kind, what we laughingly called a mall-thru — a mall with a drive-thru. It was small and taking a single order at a time. It may not have been the fastest experience, but it was so innovative and creative.”
Longino said the drive-thru received plenty of attention before the remodel with business owners traveling to see how a similar setup could benefit their operations. Following a record-breaking day, Longino believes he has the right staff in place for more growth in the future.
“We did not even come close to scratching the surface of what we can do with this new setup,” Longino said. “… We feel great and we have so much room to grow. We have seen consistent growth. The way we can keep growing this is getting the right people and I don’t believe there is a better team in any quick service restaurant across the country. I truly believe that. I am so thankful for the men and women I get to work with.”