Unprecedented increase in drive-thru restaurant sales in South African restaurants calls for faster, more efficient solutions for this growing channel

With thousands of South African holidaymakers preparing to embark on their travels around the country this holiday season, they will be looking for safety and convenience in their fast-food experience. To deliver this, Micros South Africa, a leading hospitality and restaurant industry solutions provider has equipped the first two restaurants in the country with its new smart drive-thru point of sale solutions for fast-food outlets.

The system goes live at the newly launched Pedros Flame Grilled Chicken outlet in Inanda, Kwa-Zulu Natal, along with an upgrade from an older system at Pedros Bonaero in Johannesburg, promising to establish a faster, smarter and more efficient quick service restaurant experience in the new reality of Covid-19.  

“Drive-thru ordering, historically seen as an ancillary (and optional) sale mechanism, is becoming increasingly vital to continue the sustainability of the food service sector, which is one of the hardest hit by the pandemic,” says Reginald Sibeko, Managing Director of Micros South Africa. “If sales systems can demonstrate their ability to serve high volumes of customers safely, even under the strictest lockdown, they will go a long way towards preventing closures and maintain revenues while delivering a seamless customer experience, thus protecting businesses and millions of jobs in a high unemployment environment.”

Micros, a subsidiary of Adapt IT, recently announced a partnership with PAR Technology to introduce a smart drive-thru communication system specially designed for quick service restaurants. The solution includes modular 5G wireless headsets, microphones, speakers, robust anti-glare displays and AI-enabled reporting and timer systems to deliver continuous efficiency improvements over time.

According to the FNB 2021 franchise and economic outlook, the food and beverages sector lost R14 billion of revenues in 2020 compared to 2019, due to the Pandemic.

The 2019 Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA) survey reported that South Africa has over 800 franchise systems operating through 48 000 outlets and employing 500 000 people, with a contribution equivalent to 14% of the GDP.

According to a Micros sales revenue report of the South African industry, drive-thrus, like all other restaurant sales channels, was devastated by restrictive lockdown. However, since the relaxing of restrictions, it has shown the strongest recovery with a 36% increase in revenue from December 2019 to October 2021, now generating greater revenues than eating-in, which fell 35% in the same period.

“As more people venture out to eat, there are strong indications that long-term fundamental changes in consumer behaviour are here to stay, with one store in our network increasing its share of drive-thru from 20% pre-covid to over 40% currently,” says Sibeko. “As we anticipate higher drive-thru volumes this year, the real-time Partech reporting system will give restaurant managers the ability to make immediate operational adjustments, implement queue busting measures when needed during busy periods and offer incentives to staff members and locations. Increased efficiencies in the queues, especially in the ordering and payment processes, means an outlet can increase the number of vehicles from an average of 400 a day, to as much as 700 vehicles.”

Micros South Africa expects to roll out at a total of three drive-thru locations for Pedros in 2021 and is already in talks with several quick service restaurants chains to assist in transitioning from existing systems to the new smarter system.

Reginald Sibeko, MD of Micros South Africa