A new pizza restaurant in town has shot into our elite group of favorite eateries. Is it because of the crust, the sauce, and the variety of toppings? Well, yes.  But, more importantly, you can get your pizza without leaving your car.  You can pick up your order at the drive thru window.

Truth be told, we’ve used the drive thru twice.  Both times it was a Saturday night with a full parking lot.  The first time we tentatively drove around the building, half expecting that the window was a hoax.  But it was there and we pulled up, were handed our pizzas, and drove off into the night.

The second time it was rainy and one of our pizzas wasn’t ready.  They told us to find a parking spot and they would come out with our order when it was ready.  I pointed to where I was going to park.  After what seemed like fifteen minutes, the cell phone rang.  Your pizza was ready five minutes ago but we couldn’t find your car.  So I went inside and waited in line again before getting our pizza.

So maybe the drive thru thing has some bugs to work out.  Still, the pizza was really good and the drive thru window is a novel idea.  And, I’m finding, the drive thru people are in on a secret that I wasn’t aware of.

I admit I used to look down my nose at people who waited in line at a drive thru window.  Whether it was at the coffee shop, the bank, a fast food restaurant, or the drug store, I scoffed at people who didn’t have the time or the inclination to park their vehicles, go into the establishment, conduct their business, return to their cars, and go on their way.  How hard is that?  Often times I would drive away, saying, “Look, that guy is still sitting in the same spot!”

But I’m changing my tune.

It’s easy to give below average customer service inside an establishment but much more difficult to ignore customers in a drive thru.  Take my (least) favorite situation: picking up a prescription.

If you walk into a pharmacy, you’ll find technicians busily working to fill prescriptions for our increasingly medicated society.  Whether there are two people working or ten, they are all, to their credit, engaged in counting and putting pills in bottles. The walk-in customer, despite being the end user, is a distraction.  If they stop to wait on you, they are liable to give someone the wrong medication or the wrong amount of pills.

They know you’re there and they will definitely be aware of the line growing behind you.  If you’re lucky, you may get a nod or an “I’ll be right with you.”  If you’re not lucky, they will ignore you completely and continue what they’re doing.

But, if your pharmacy is progressive enough to have a drive thru window, you will be treated like royalty when you drive up.  A bell will ring in the pharmacy. A new drive thru customer is here!  Technicians will fight over each other to wait on you. If they could, they would say, “Thank you for taking me away from the drudgery of my job, and these walk-in customers who are breathing on me.”  As a customer, you will drive away feeling happier and more respected than you ever have.

This is how it is in the drive thru world.  You can’t make the drive thru customer wait.  If you do, cars will spill out of your parking lot into the street. There will be accidents and people will get hurt.  Management will investigate and find out who was working the drive thru when people were injured in the big car accident.

And then, do you know what management will do?  They will punish that employee by making them only wait on the walk-in customers.

Are you a drive thru or walk-in kind of person?  Please leave a comment…