Chains testing thermal technology to achieve quicker dine-in service

By Chris Precious, president, North America, and sales director, Worldwide Sensor Business, Irisys

Efforts to reduce customer wait times at quick-service restaurants tend to focus on drive-thru speeds and order accuracy - from sending staff members out to take orders at car windows to installing two, sometimes three different order lanes.

But what about customers who choose to walk into a restaurant to order?

Setting a standard for improvement is the fundamental problem with reducing in-store wait times. Quick-service restaurants can easily track the time it takes to place the order, but that formula does not account for time customers spend waiting in line to place their orders or to be served their food.

Several major QSR chains are currently piloting thermal-powered checkout management solutions specifically designed for the fast-paced environment.


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Non-intrusive infrared sensors installed over the waiting line area in the restaurant identify and monitor customers as they enter the line and wait to order. The data is then compiled and analyzed to help management identify areas of potential improvement.

Several U.S. and European grocers have already integrated this technology into their in-store monitoring systems to reduce checkout wait times - and to improve customer service and boost loyalty.

And the technology can help quick-service restaurants, too.

The thermal-powered checkout management systems actively gather analytics to help paint a clear picture of how to improve three key service metrics for walk-in customers:

  • Wait time: How long is it from the moment the customer enters the line until he or she starts placing an order?
  • Order time: How long are customers spending at the register itself?
  • Fulfillment time: How long are customers waiting from placing an order to receiving the meal?

Fulfillment time is the trickiest aspect to measure, but there are several emerging methods that can help identify the precise moment an order is handed over to a customer.

One such method involves placing a unique barcode on the customer receipt at point of sale, which can then be scanned by an employee once the customer has received their order. Methods such as this could help accurately form a complete overview of how long customers wait.

Customers hate waiting in line - a fact that holds true from shopping to entertainment to everyday errands, such as going to the bank.

Quick-service restaurants can improve their customer service and their sales by better managing their resources to streamline in-store processes. And thermal technology provides the key.

Infrared Integrated Systems Ltd, generally called Irisys, is a thermal imaging company headquartered in the United Kingdom. The company develops people counting technologies and real-time queue management solutions.  Irisys infrared arrays are used by many leading retailers, banks, transport hubs and leisure facilities to improve customer service, operational efficiency and profitability.

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