Drive-Through Wait Time for Customers is Cut by Video Integration with LPR and POS

The business results of managing a drive-through café or restaurant depend on servicing as many customers as possible, especially at peak times. The fast food and beverage market is very competitive during commute times, and an efficient drive-through service can be the difference between success or failure.

Customers are often under time pressure, especially if ordering food and coffee within their morning deadlines for getting to work. Long queues and wait times can detract from the drive-through experience and have a big impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty.

“We have a lot of experience in making better drive-through experiences, but there’s always room to innovate. We looked at the technologies now available and came up with a system that provides a faster, more frictionless ordering system, based on the latest Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) technology,” said Robert Marsden, Managing Director of Addictive Technology Solutions, a Milestone Partner in Australia.


Open Platform Video Integrates POS and LPR

White Label Software built an in-house solution based on Milestone Systems’ open platform, XProtect video management software (VMS) that sits between a restaurant or cafe’s Point-of-Sale (POS) system and networked video cameras.

The Milestone software uses LPR technology to identify regular customers as they drive up to place their order, accesses the restaurant’s database of VIP customers in real time to see if they have a favourite coffee or snack, and sends a message to the kitchen to start preparing those items before the customer has arrived at the sales window. The customer’s preferences are ready even before they get to the order point, while the system also can cross-check to ensure that the predicted order matches the customer’s actual order.


Efficient Cloud Storage on Amazon Web Servers

“Our POS system has an API, and that application interfaces Milestone with our POS system. A Windows application reads the licence plates then ‘talks’ to the POS system. It is an SQL-based system with a database stored in the cloud on Amazon Web servers, and it does all this in a few seconds!” said Marsden.

This integrated solution is also flexible. Branch outlets can decide whether they want customers to register in advance and confirm what they want ahead of time, so the same order is placed every time, or they have the option of using the predictive analytics built into White Label’s proprietary POS software.


Predictive Analytics for Creatures of Habit

This analysis proves accurate for 90% of orders, with just 10% of customers deciding they want something different on a specific day. The POS software will analyse the customer’s last ten or more orders and pick the one that comes up the most. The cost of any wastage using this system is considerably less than the cost of a slower drive-through experience.

“It would not have been possible to build this without using Milestone’s open platform,” said Marsden. “We have shaved significant time off the routine of ordering, which frees up space in the drive-through lanes, improves customer satisfaction, and can also have the effect of enticing more customers in as they see a reduced wait-time at a particular location.”


Time Savings Move Customers Faster  

The innovation stems from Addictive Technology’s extensive experience working with Drive Thru food outlets. When provisioning a drive-through space, they deploy all technologies themselves from POS to IP networks and wireless, LPR software and all associated integrations.

“We have done hundreds of drive-through installations and know that the traffic flow is crucial. Every car that receives an order promptly via the LPR system reduces the distance the next car needs to travel and wait, which dramatically increases the speed of service for all cars,” said Marsden.

Addictive’s Milestone LPR solution provides a minimum of four- or five-seconds’ head-start for each predicted order, and as much as two minutes head-start for high-volume outlets during busy times. This time savings can be critical to avoiding congestion at busy times, which makes the difference between back-ups that cause customers the aggravation of being delayed, or an efficient and streamlined ordering process that sends them happily on their way.

In the fast-service restaurant industry, outlets survive or perish based on their customer satisfaction and the number of cars that can pass through their drive-through on an hourly basis.

“We are open to all sorts of new ideas,” said Marsden. “It is all about increasing productivity and customer satisfaction.”


This article is excerpted and adapted from the full ATS Drive-Through case story. Read all the details here: