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RBI on Mission to ‘Modernize’ Drive-Thru Experience at Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons

Digital drive-thru menu boards at a Burger King double drive-thru location.

Restaurant Brands International (RBI) wants to speed things up at the drive-thru windows of the fast-food chains it operates and provide better service.

So the Toronto-based company, which operates Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons, said it is “modernizing” the drive-thru experience at more than 10,000 Burger King and Tim Hortons locations, with Popeyes beginning its own rollout later this year.

More than 40,000 digital screens are being installed with powerful “predictive selling” technology, integration with restaurant loyalty programs and the ability for remote, contactless payment, the company said.

“Our guests have sought out our drive-thru lanes for our food and beverages throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — even in the face of mandated dining room closures around the world,” said Jose Cil, CEO of RBI. “We believe strongly that it is time to modernize our drive-thru lanes throughout the U.S. and Canada to provide even better, quicker and contactless service for our guests. This includes presenting menu options on digital screens that are tailored for each guest, as well as integrating our loyalty program at the moment of ordering and providing remote, contactless payment to speed up our drive-thru lanes in the near future.”

Josh Kobza, RBI’s chief operating officer, said the company has attracted “exceptional” digital and technology talent to join its global team and the company’s digital drive-thru menu board initiative is just one in a series of strategic projects that RBI is rolling out over the next year to strengthen its business model and improve the level of service it provides to its customers.

The digital drive-thru menu boards are designed with predictive selling technology designed by RBI’s in-house Guest Intelligence team, allowing for special promotions to be tailored based on previous orders, regional weather patterns, the time of day and other factors. RBI said the home-grown technology can dynamically learn preferred ordering habits and also show the latest and trending menu items most-ordered in a location.

The menu boards have also been designed with the ability to integrate loyalty programs, allowing for customized menu options to be displayed that are based on customers’ favorite purchases and redemption history. This functionality is currently live and being tested at 30 Tim Hortons locations in Canada with the Tims Rewardsloyalty program. All digital drive-thru menu boards in the U.S. and Canada have been designed to accommodate loyalty integration via scanning, Bluetooth or near-field communication.

The digital drive-thru menu boards also have the flexibility to add immediate, remote contactless payment to allow guests to order and pay simultaneously and speed up drive-thru lanes, according to RBI, which has partnered with payment solutions provider, Verifone, to develop a new global remote contactless payment device for a drive-thru lane. The first prototype is currently installed at a Tim Hortons restaurant in Canada, with 15 more locations to test this functionality by January.

RBI saidnew installations are using enclosures that have been designed to withstand the heat of the southern United States, the cold of Canada’s north and the corrosive, salty air from cities along North America’s oceans.

As of September, Tim Hortons has installed digital drive-thru menu boards at about 800 locations in the U.S. and Canada; Burger King has installed digital drive-thru menu boards at more than 1,500 locations in the U.S.; and Popeyes is starting installation at new locations later this year. A typical drive-thru lane includes four digital screens, while double drive-thru lanes typically include a total of seven digital screens. RBI said it’s assessing drive-thru locations and, where possible, is installing double drive-thru lanes to increase capacity and efficiency at its restaurants.

RBI operates about 27,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries and U.S. territories.