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2009 July: Pizza on the Go


2009 July: Pizza on the Go2009 July: Pizza on the GoWhen Dallas-based Pizza Patron opened its latest location in San Antonio in October 2008, the chain referred to as it its fast service pizza idea, or QSP. The restaurant has a drive-thru window and an outside menu board. Prospects order by talking right into a microphone, then drive a number of extra ft to a window to select up their pizza. Andrew Gamm, director of name growth for the rising chain (which is approaching 100 models on the time of this writing), says the corporate needs to alter the best way folks purchase pizza. “Our aim is to ship drive-thru service that rivals the non-pizza QSR phase,” he says.

Whereas drive-thrus are widespread amongst burger and different fast service eating places, few pizza operators provide prospects the comfort of ordering pizza, then not having to depart their vehicles to select it up. Pizza takes quarter-hour or longer to cook dinner, an period of time that drive-thru shoppers may not tolerate. They’re accustomed to filling their orders in two or three minutes.

Pizza Patron dealt with the velocity of service subject by working with an organization to develop an oven that bakes a pie in 4 minutes. The restaurant additionally narrowed the drive-thru decisions to about 5 menu gadgets. “Quickness and effectivity supersede customization,” Gamm says.

For many different pizza operators, drive-thru means the client orders by telephone or on-line, then drives to the restaurant to select up the meals at a window. That methodology is one option to encourage folks to select up their pizzas, as a substitute of getting the restaurant ship. “You may cut back bills by placing in a window,” says Mark Ulrey, proprietor of the six-unit Flyer’s Pizza & Subs in Columbus, Ohio. The diminished bills come from hiring fewer supply drivers, and presumably having decrease insurance coverage prices and different prices related to supply. 4 of the Flyer’s places provide drive-thru service, which accounts for about 35 p.c of these shops’ gross sales. “Most of that enterprise has been taken away from supply,” says Ulrey.

Moreover, he notes, there are bills related to drive-thru. The placement needs to be a standalone or an finish cap constructing. “These price a pair extra {dollars} per sq. foot,” he says. Two Flyer’s places are finish cap and two are standalone. There are different constructing necessities. The window needs to be large enough to accommodate an 18-inch pizza field. That’s bigger than a drive via window at a burger place. The work space close to the window must have its personal money register. The kitchen would possibly have to be redesigned to place the staging space or the holding space nearer to the window.

There’s additionally know-how to alert employees {that a} automobile has pulled into the drive via space. That may very well be a magnet system constructed into the pavement, much like sensors that set off a visitors mild, or an ultrasonic detector that sends a excessive frequency sound after which detects when the sound bounces off a automobile.

Daren Haas is vp of selling and new enterprise growth for HM Electronics (HME), a Poway, California-based firm that makes ultrasonic detectors and different drive-thru associated know-how comparable to headsets and timers. He says new know-how will make it simpler for eating places to increase their drive-thru processes. “You may get an embedded RFID tag in your bank card or cellphone so you’ll be able to faucet and go for fee, and there’s additionally cellphone and on-line ordering that shops your preferences,” he explains.

Haas provides that, on the whole, some areas usually tend to see expanded drive-thru than others. “In Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and different open areas, it’s big. It’s nearly non existent in California due to zoning legal guidelines and actual property could be very costly.”

Some drive-thru places are low tech. Kim Trotta, whose husband opened Trotta’s Pizza and Drive-Through in Cincinnati in 1996, says Trotta’s is in a constructing that was once a automobile wash. “Among the drive-thrus listed here are in outdated barns,” she says. “Ours could be very engaging.” The world has companies that promote donuts, quick meals, groceries, even beer and wine via drive-thru home windows.

Columbus, Ohio-based Donatos has 176 places. Spokesperson Tom Santor says greater than 70 p.c have drive-thru home windows, and in these places, drive-thru accounts for 15 to twenty p.c of gross sales. One problem is to teach prospects concerning the drive-thru possibility. “The largest factor is simply the nomenclature of it,” he says. “On the again of our menu, now we have a phone icon and we discuss with the call-ahead drive-thru window.” The data is on the Donatos Website too.

Ulrey says Flyer’s employees lets prospects know they will choose up orders at a window. “You educate them,” he says. “On the telephone we are saying, ‘Is that this going to be pickup, supply or drive-thru?’ ” Unsolicited mail items additionally point out the drive-thru. Gamm says opening the QSP entailed altering the mindset of Pizza Patron staff. Many had been used to prospects calling, then ready for supply or arriving twenty minutes later. “Now an order is available in and the clock is operating,” he says. “You will have a couple of minutes to get it performed.”

The chain plans to open extra QSP places. The subsequent one will likely be in a former Popeye’s Rooster location that has a drive-thru. Gamm says the brand new format provides the chain extra choices in website choice. “We will get into actual property that wouldn’t work with our mannequin beforehand,” he says. “It’s solely going to get higher. We’re very optimistic about development.” ?

Discuss to the Signal ”

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Drive-thru prospects need to converse to somebody or one thing. That’s not as a result of they’ve a grievance, however as a result of they’re used to yelling right into a microphone to put an order. Sadly for these frequent customers of drive via quick meals, the pizza drive-thru is totally different. With pizza, “drive-thru” often means “name or order on-line, then choose up at a window.” There isn’t a microphone exterior.

“It’s a long run ongoing schooling,” says Tom Santor, spokesperson for Columbus, Ohio-based Donatos. “They drive up and ask, ‘Do I discuss into this signal?’ ”

Kim Trotta, of the household owned Trotta’s Pizza and Drive-Through in Cincinnati, Ohio, says she has seen a number of folks discuss to the signage exterior the constructing, a former automobile wash. “Whenever you first proceed into the doorway of the drive-thru, there’s a small signal that claims our hours. It’s humorous … generally folks discuss into it. We allow them to discuss into it, then we stroll over to them.”

Nora Caley is a contract author specializing in meals and enterprise subjects. She lives in Denver, Colorado

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