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The Ins and Outs of a Drive-Thru Smoothie Concept

Author: Smoothie King

Although originally pioneered in the 1930s to expedite bank deposits, drive-thrus have almost become synonymous with modern-day fast food restaurants. And while drive-thrus have been mainstays at quick-serve restaurants for decades, they are now also springing up in nearly every industry – from pharmacies and grocery stores to dry cleaners.

By offering the convenient drive-thru lane, businesses across verticals aim to drive sales while catering to the increasingly on-the-go consumer.

And when you take into consideration the fact that drive-thrus account for 50 to 70 percent of fast-food sales, it’s no surprise more businesses are finding ways to make their concepts conducive to the drive-thru model.


Smoothie King has been implementing the drive-thru model for years.

Here’s more on how we’ve stayed ahead of the curve when it comes to offering better-for-you drive-thru options, and why our smoothie concept offers a competitive advantage for franchisees:

Health-Conscious Consumers Driving Demand for Drive-Thru Smoothie Concept

One in five American meals are eaten in the car. The majority of consumers spend our jam-packed weekdays rushing around – whether it’s to be on time for a client meeting or dropping the kids off at soccer practice. Still, consumers care just as much about efficiency as they do enjoyment when it comes to on-the-go eating.

Not surprisingly, for years, this mobile eating routine has also meant sacrificing health for convenience. Finger foods like French fries and hamburgers are easier to eat with one hand on the wheel than a salad. But, as consumers have become more health-conscious, they’ve also found new, more nutrient-dense and portable foods to accommodate their on-the-go lifestyles.


Meal replacement smoothies are not only an easy and portable option, they’re also an efficient way to get essential nutrients. So, as we’ve come to place greater importance on our health – without giving up our on-the-go lifestyles – there’s never been higher demand for drive-thru smoothie concepts.

The Need to Efficiently Get Food out the Door – Through the Window

The popularity of drive-thrus doesn’t come without a cost, however. As more consumers opt for the convenience of the drive-thru lane, some restaurant concepts – even those who have used drive-thrus for decades – are struggling to adapt to the growing volume of cars pulling up to their drive-thru.

For that reason, average speed of service times – the time between the customer placing his or her order and receiving it – have largely slowed across the board among many full-menu QSRs.

smoothie concept drive-thru at smoothie king

Drive-thru veterans and newcomers alike are also working to improve order accuracy, which can stand further refinement – especially as one in ten customers at these establishments receives an inaccurate order.

QSRs with dozens of different menu items need to have the agility and robust staff, equipment and operations in place to accommodate a variety of potential orders. This becomes even more complicated when consumers increasingly look for customization in their meals, along with their distaste for the processed and pre-cooked food that has long made drive-thrus possible for fast food restaurants.

How Our Smoothie Concept Delivers at the Drive-Thru

While full-menu QSRs may struggle to reconcile a strong customer experience with expedient service, Smoothie King’s product and operational systems have always inherently lent themselves to both – whether in-store or in the drive-thru. And, as we continue to add drive-thru locations to our franchise system, our simplified operations and core product offering can make for a seamless transition to a more fast-paced ordering process.

Smoothie King offers the customization and clean ingredients consumers crave, while keeping operations simple. Since we have a single core product, operations remain the same for every product we blend – even if the recipes differ. This simplicity is largely tied into speed of service, keeping cars moving quickly through our drive-thru, while providing guests the exact smoothie they ordered.

Additionally, our integrated software systems allow for a more customizable and consistent product order every time.

smoothie king local store marketing

Our recipe management engine (RME) is directly tied to our point of sale (POS) system. When a custom order is placed through our POS, our recipe management system responds by immediately changing in the formulation and recipe to accommodate the customized order.

Industry Innovators for 40 Years

Our systems and product thrive within the drive-thru model – encouraging high guest satisfaction and driving sales for franchisees.

The Smoothie King brand was an originator in the smoothie bar segment when we were established 40 years ago. Since then, we’ve continued to stay agile, innovative and ahead of changing consumer trends – whether it be the shift toward cleaner ingredients or the need for faster, convenient and more nutritious drive-thru food options – solidifying our place as a longstanding major player in the smoothie industry.

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