Drive-through restaurants have become increasingly popular in the UK, with the number operating in England and Wales increasing by 41% in the five years to the end of 2020.
While the Covid-19 pandemic helped to further increase the number of drive-throughs, the appetite for them hasn’t declined since the lockdowns ended. If anything, the ease of drive-throughs has made them ever more popular, which big chains and independent restaurants seeing success.
Ideal for a range of areas and if you don’t have a lot of room for indoor seating or parking, drive-throughs can be a great way to expand your brand and encourage different types of consumers to try it.
To ensure your drive-through is as successful as possible, however, you need to think about more than your menu and location. Your business signs can make or break the success of your drive-through, so here are five things to consider when planning your signage.
1. Ensuring visibility
Visibility is important for your drive-through, both in terms of ensuring your business is visible from the road and that your menu, offers and prices can be seen easily at all times of the day.
Visibility from the road is vital for encouraging passing trade and for making your drive-through easy to find. Offers, popular menu items and other marketing messages not only help to increase brand awareness, but they can also make it more likely that people will be encouraged to divert from their journey to order.
You should also make sure that your drive-through stands out from other businesses and buildings. Fascia signs and built up letters are a great way to showcase your location and make it easier for customers to make their way to you.
In most cases, you will need to think about being visible from a long distance. Drivers will need enough notice to see the drive-thru and decide to stop in. A pole sign is a great way to do this. Often an illuminated logo box on a long steel pole, a pole sign can be visible from a long distance away, day and night. If you need to be seen over a junction or simply to raise your brand over greenery, a pole sign is an excellent way to do this.
Lighting also has a big impact on visibility, whether it’s at night or during bad weather. This means that as well as visible signs, you need to ensure you have adequate lighting set up to help people read the menu, see which way to go and generally find their way around your business.
2. Directional signage
Directional signage is key to ensure that people drive the right way through your drive-through and can find the car park if required. Making the experience as easy as possible will ensure your restaurant can operate smoothly and that customers are more likely to return and recommend your drive-through.
The entrance to the driveway should be clearly marked, as should the way to the car park. You should also ensure that each stage of the drive-through – such as where you order, where you pay and where you collect your order – are all clearly signposted. You should also clearly show where the exit is.
You can also use directional signage before people get to your drive-through, with roadside signs showing the way and giving a distance helping to encourage people to visit.
3. Pre-sell messages
With drive-throughs being so popular, there is a lot of competition, especially from large brands. Giving people a reason to visit your drive-through over any others needs to happen as early as possible.
Pre-sell messages are key for this, as they help you to encourage passing customers. Signage located at strategic points to increase brand awareness but also highlight your menu and offers can help bring people to your business, even if they haven’t been before.
Whether it’s meal deals, a particular menu item, the promise of a different offer every day or something else, showcasing these pre-sell messages as people are getting close to your business can make the difference between them choosing you rather than a competitor.
It’s important to remember, however, that any changes to prices or offers need to be updated on this type of sign otherwise you can risk disappointing the customer when they come to order.
4. Menu signs
As well as key offers, you need to ensure your full menu is easy to read and as visible as possible. A menu with a large and clear font will allow people to read it from their cars, while splitting it up into sections (for example, meals, burgers and drinks), will improve skimability.
If you have different menus available at different times during the day, it could be a good idea to utilise digital signage for your drive-through menu. You can set a digital menu to automatically change throughout the day so only the available items are available.
You can also update it if anything is out of stock, if you alter prices, or add new items, all without having to replace the sign. On top of this, digital signage is highly visible and can easily be read at night as well as during the day, improving the ordering process for customers.
5. Internal signage
If you have a restaurant that allows people to sit inside as well as a drive-through, you also need to consider your internal signage. Any signs inside your business need to reflect the branding used across the drive-through area of the restaurant but you also have to consider other factors, such as wayfinding and safety signs.
Once again, signs detailing offers and digital menus can make ordering easier for customers, especially as your menu boards can be updated along with the drive-through one. You can also utilise digital ordering to keep things running smoothly and reduce the number of required till points.