Drive-thru business expanding during coronavirus pandemic
FOX Business’ Jeff Flock breaks down how popular food chains have adapted to coronavirus standards and implemented drive-thrus and curbside pickup services.
Checkers & Rally's is leaning into the digital future with enhanced drive-thru and delivery services. Even with a pandemic-proof drive-thru model, the restaurant chain is doubling down on its efficiencies to further accelerate growth.
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The national burger chain, with more than 900 locations across the US, is testing out new ways to deliver faster and to more customers with a new kitchen layout, strategic drive-thru lanes and digital delivery.
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“We are definitely optimizing our drive-thru model for the future,” Checkers & Rally's CEO Frances Allen told FOX Business. “Although we still believe there is a huge number of people that prefer to just come to the restaurant, digital delivery is the future. We continue to look at how we maximize the efficiency of our kitchen and how we prepare for that digital and delivery growth.”
The new kitchen includes upgraded and reorganized equipment in order to boost the speed of service and food preparation times.
In addition to a kitchen prototype with new equipment, some Checkers & Rally's locations will restructure their drive-thru lanes to prop up its new emphasis on delivery. Instead of double drive-thru lanes on either side of the building, one lane will be devoted to delivery only.
The brand is also in the process of developing a mobile app as well as strengthening its technological capabilities as it expands into new markets. In June, Checkers & Rally’s teamed up with an AI-powered, subscription-based platform, SiteZeus. The predictive modeling platform provides the performance data of multi-unit brands along with third-party datasets to project sales forecasts and determine how a location will generate revenue.
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The pandemic catapulted the brand’s delivery offerings forward as it looked for ways to tap into its presence within the delivery realm. In April and May, the Tampa, Fla.-based company offered free delivery service, which helped grow the customer footprint.
“What we found is that half of the guests who are using Checkers & Rally's for delivery are new to the brand,” Allen said. ”We have an opportunity to really engage with those new customers and keep them.”
DRIVE-THRU SALES KEEPING RESTAURANTS AFLOAT
Allen, who stepped into the role as CEO in mid-February at the start of the outbreak and in the backdrop of stay-at-home mandates and nationwide curfews, helped the chain navigate the financial whirlwind and plan for a more secure future. And from March to June, total revenue from the restaurants rose 4%, with same-store sales ticking up 7.3% for corporate-owned restaurants and 9.7% for franchised locations.
Amid the upheaval of the restaurant industry, Checkers & Rally's is still forging ahead. Since April, the chain has signed on 28 new franchisees.
“We are bringing in a lot of new consumers to the initiatives we have in place,” Allen said. “Through our accelerated growth, interest in our brand since the pandemic hit has been tremendous.”
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