- Vancouver, British Columbia - While working the other day in a busy Drive-Thru service store, my co-workers and I were discussing how many times we wish that we could teach a class on Drive-Thru etiquette. I cannot even begin to tell you in how many instances that we have wished people knew a few simple facts. My hope is that these ten simple things will improve not only your Drive-Thru experiences, but make the jobs of the people on the other side just a little bit easier!
The First Commandment – Thou shalt speak in an even, clear voice. Don't be afraid to speak up! (Note, I did not say yell. Please don't yell at us, it hurts our ears). If you speak in an even, clear voice, will be able to hear your order properly and ensure that we've understood it correctly. Fancy that. . .
The Second Commandment – Thou shalt have the driver be the orderer. When you attempt to order from any seat but the driver's, it makes it very difficult for the order-takers to hear, let alone understand you. So mix ups may occur, oops! Plus, obviously since they are driving the car, the person in the driver's seat must be capable of ordering for themselves, one would think?
The Third Commandment – Thou shalt listen to the workers. Most places have rules that the worker must repeat your order. For instance at Starbucks they seem to repeat your drink three times. At McDonald's, they repeat your order at the box and at the window. Most Drive-Thrus have this rule. We don't just do this because we like the sounds of our voices! When we repeat your order it is to ensure that it is correct so that when you get to the pick-up window you are getting what you wanted. If they repeat something back wrong to you, that is the time to tell the order-taker the correct order, not as we hand out the order.
The Fourth Commandment – Thou shalt put down your cell phone. This ties in to the above in a way, for when you are busy talking on your phone, we are unable to repeat your order to you, which often leads to things being done wrong. Also, it makes us feel really awkward, because we're supposed to stay near the window, but we don't want to be listening in on your conversation. It's kinda awkward, especially when you're on Bluetooth... I don't know if you realize just how confusing those things are. Are you talking to me? Are you talking to them? I don't know!
The Fifth Commandment – Thou shalt be patient. We deal with multiple people at one time, with taking orders, handling cash, juggling the orders, making them, and also talking to guests. We want to give everyone the best experience, but this does make our attention spread across several people. I hate to say it, but the world does not revolve around you, contrary to what you might think. When you pull up to the speaker box, we get a ding that tells us this. You don't need to continue to yell, “hello, hello!” Sometimes we are having to deal with other people or have our hands full, and are thus unable to answer the moment that you pull up, but we will get to you! I promise it.
The Sixth Commandment – Thou shalt know what you want before you enter the Drive-Thru. The whole point of Drive-Thrus are so that things can go quickly. If you don't know what you want, it won't kill you to take a few minutes to come inside. You can see the full menu if the establishment does not have it posted in the Drive-Thru lane. Please don't sit there and hold up the line, if you aren't sure of what you want.
The Seventh Commandment – Thou shalt not change your order at the window. People tend to have a habit of adding additional items at the window, or sometimes changing entire orders. This causes you to have to wait longer, and holds up everyone else behind you. Especially if you ask to change something after having already paid, as the worker is handing out your order. We want to be able to make you happy, and of course we will always say yes and smile, but it does inconvenience everyone else behind you.
The Eighth Commandment – Thou shalt not drive past the order box. Especially if you have a large order that will take a long time to do. Even if you think that it's “confusing” or “too long” to say at the order box, believe me, it's not. When you drive past the order box it makes it extremely difficult because often there are more people behind you, and it makes everyone wait longer, and many times, it makes the order-taker's till mess up, and causes incidents to occur in a domino effect.
The Ninth Commandment – Thou shalt not enter the Drive-Thru if you are late. I say this because people tend to get mad at us because you are late for work. But when you enter with a visible line-up, you must understand that there will be a little bit of a wait. It is not our fault that you are late to work. If you were late, why did you come in to begin with?
The Tenth Commandment – Thou shalt treat the worker how you want to be treated. We are people too! We would prefer if you treat us as such. Even though we're usually working a minimum wage customer service job, this does not make us lesser than you. Don't get mad at us, we're just trying to pay for school or rent, or for a car, the same as you. Please give us the respect that we deserve, and we will return the gesture.
So, there you have it, a few simple things that will make a big difference. Believe me, these things will make the workers happier, which will make you happier, because they hold a lot of power over your food/beverages... are you sure those are the people you want to be making angry? Joking, but really, people give respect to those deserving of respect, if you follow these commandments you will gain the workers respect.