When soldiers at Fort Huachuca Army Base, U.S. received a standing order to not wear their fatigues in public, they could not order their favourite hamburgers at the nearest McDonald’s anymore. So, McDonald’s franchisee David Rich installed a sliding window into the wall. The soldiers could now order and pickup without getting out of their cars.
Not much after, McDonald’s opened its first drive-thru at the Oklahoma City restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue and it hit the right chord with customers.
When McDonald’s started expanding, drive-thru was an important brand extension that found almost immediate acceptance at most of the locations. In India, the first drive-thru was opened in Navi Mumbai’s Kalamboli in 2001. Over the last 20 years, drive-thrus have been a key driver for McDonald’s.
So what makes these windows such a hit?
In QSR industry, convenience is very important. Not all days are the same for a McDonald’s consumer i.e. there are bad weather days, don’t have no time days, would rather eat in the car days, buying for the picnic days, my friend is waiting at the next bus stop days and so on and so forth. These are the days when ordering and picking up from the car makes a lot more sense than sitting at the restaurant.
These days, a drive thru may look like a simple idea, but it took McDonald’s a lot of careful planning, trial and error and strategic choices to build a brand extension that has no match.
By the way, did you know that McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc wanted the drive-thru windows to be called the take home windows?