The top 5 things to consider in a fast food drive-through location

By Sarah Stowe | 08 Mar 2016 View comments

Beforfe you buy a fast food drive-through franchise, do your research on the location. Image: gaebler.comWhen you buy a fast food drive through franchise you need to be sure the location is just right. So what should you be looking for?

The free standing with drive through (FSDT) model is the very high investment made by major brands such as McDonalds, KFC and Hungry Jacks; their aim to achieve more than 50 percent of their turnover through the drive through operation.

1. Traffic

How many vehicles pass the store each day? Traffic measurement can be done in many ways, using information from the State Roads department, from local councils or standing outside with a counter.

We also suggest looking at www.zenithtraffic.com.au, a new website set up to give consistent measurement or estimates in all five major capital cities. The normal measurement you are looking for is 24 hour, both directions, weekday traffic counts.

2. Visibility

You can have a great store with plenty of passing traffic, but the outlet still needs to be seen, preferably from far enough away so the drivers can make a decision to turn in. Visibility of signage and the building both contribute to a highly visible FSDT.

3. Site suitability

What physical items can the site offer? There can be huge variation from small stores with 20 seats to the more modern 100 seat restaurant. If leasing an existing store, consider the number of tables, counter length, outside seating, drive-through windows and queueing, access and parking.

4. Demographics

It is no good having a store selling one product range without customers in the area. While companies like ours can provide detailed demographic information, you can always look up any area in Australia yourself on the ABS website,  www.abs.gov.au and then look for Census Data, and then Quikstats. You can put in a postcode or suburb, and find out from the Census 2011 about that area.

Think in terms of what your franchise is selling, the pricing point and who you are selling to. If your average meal price point is very high, then selling into low socio economic areas is probably less attractive than high socio economic areas. If you are selling kids’ meals and ice cream, then young families would be the best target audience.

A target market index is one way of putting together two or three demographic variables to see which areas are best for what you are selling. This is a service provided by companies with geographic information systems.

5. Competition

In quick service restaurants we have seen the advent of what we call a cluster: a group of three or four QSRs that may share common access and parking, and their success is partly due to the variety on offer for the consumer. The average rental may be slightly lower than a pure standalone too, as the site efficiency is better with shared parking and multiple access points.

Our view is that it is a “friend and foe” situation, where the others in the cluster actually work for each other to bring in a greater amount of business than the sum of the individuals would bring in. On the other hand being a single store, say 1km away from a strong cluster is detrimental, as a single store does not have the attraction of a cluster. In dollar terms, we estimate each additional store in the cluster adds about $800 in weekly sales.