April 6, 2023
Alipio Umiten IV

Drive Thru Operators: A Job Description and Permit Guide

In today's fast-paced world, we always seek ways to save time, and drive-thrus enable us to swiftly obtain what we need without exiting our cars. However, have you ever pondered about the individual on the opposite end of that window? The one who takes our orders, prepares our food, and delivers it to us with a smile? That's a drive-thru operator, and their job is more important than you might think.

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What Is a Drive Thru Operator?

A drive-thru operator is a person responsible for taking orders and facilitating transactions at a drive-thru restaurant window. They typically interact with customers through a speaker system, asking for their order and providing information on menu items or promotions. 

Once the order is complete, the drive-thru operator receives payment and hands over the food or beverage items through the window. 

This role demands that you have exceptional customer service skills, are detail-oriented, and can multitask effectively in a fast-paced environment.

Drive-thru operators have a crucial role in the quick-service restaurant industry. They provide efficient and convenient service to customers on the go.

Drive Thru Operator Job Description

The job of a drive-thru operator can be demanding, requiring various skills and competencies. Some of the daily responsibilities of a drive-thru operator include:

Taking Orders

Drive-thru operators are responsible for taking accurate orders from customers via the drive-thru window, often using a headset or speaker system. Excellent communication, listening skills and attention to detail are necessary for this job.

Operating a Cash Register

In addition to taking orders, drive-thru operators are also responsible for processing payments and making change. This involves using a cash register or other point-of-sale system, handling cash and credit card transactions, and balancing the till at the end of each shift.

Preparing Food

While drive-thru operators may not be responsible for cooking food, they are often tasked with assembling orders and ensuring that they are prepared correctly. This may involve putting together burgers, sandwiches, salads, or other menu items, as well as packaging orders for easy transport.

Managing Transactions

Drive-thru operators are also responsible for managing transactions and ensuring orders are properly charged and processed. This may involve verifying coupons or other restaurant discounts, applying loyalty rewards, and ensuring customers are charged the correct amount for their orders.

Other skills and competencies that are essential for drive-thru operators include:

  • Customer service skills
  • Time management skills
  • Multitasking abilities
  • Stress management skills
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Teamwork skills

What Permits Are Required to Operate a Drive-Thru?

Before you consider opening a drive-thru service, it's important to understand the permits and regulations involved. The requirements may vary based on the unique details of your operation and location.

Some of the common permits and licenses required may include:

Business License

This is a general license required to conduct business in most jurisdictions. To obtain this license, your local city or county government office can assist you with the necessary information.

This license essentially gives you the legal permission to operate your business within a specific locale.

Food Service License

This is a must-have for any food-related business. The requirements for this license will vary by state and city, but generally, they involve inspections of your preparation areas and ensuring you meet health and safety standards.

Building Permit

If you're modifying an existing structure to create a drive-thru or building a new one, you'll likely need a building permit. This typically involves submitting plans to your local planning or building department for approval.

Sign Permit

To advertise your business and direct customers to your drive-thru, you'll need signs. Most jurisdictions have regulations about the size, location, and sometimes even the lighting and color of signs, and require a permit for them.

Drive-Thru Permit

Some cities require a specific drive-thru permit. These are often tied to concerns about traffic flow, noise, and sometimes even environmental considerations.

Fire Department Permit

Cooking on the premises may necessitate obtaining a permit from your local fire department. This usually involves an inspection to ensure that you have appropriate fire suppression equipment and that your cooking equipment is safe to use.

Liquor License

Serving alcohol at your drive-thru mandates that you have a liquor license. These are typically heavily regulated and can be quite difficult to obtain. Learn how to get a liquor license here.

In addition to these permits and licenses, you will also need to consider zoning laws (to ensure you're allowed to operate a drive-thru in your chosen location), waste disposal regulations, and possibly other local regulations.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Drive Thru Operators

Drive thru operators are an essential part of the fast-food industry, serving customers on the go and ensuring quick and efficient service. But what are the most common questions about drive thru operators? Let's find out.

What Are the Duties of a Drive-Thru Operator?

The duties of a drive-thru operator include:

  • Taking customer orders.
  • Processing payments.
  • Preparing food and drinks.
  • Maintaining cleanliness and organization of the drive-thru area.
  • Providing excellent customer service.

What Skills Are Needed for a Drive-Thru Operator?

Several skills are required to become a drive-thru operator, including excellent communication skills, multitasking abilities, cash handling skills, attention to detail, and a friendly demeanor.

Is Experience Necessary to Become a Drive-Thru Operator?

Experience isn't always necessary for this position, as most companies provide on-the-job training. 

Keep in mind that some employers may prioritize candidates with previous experience in the restaurant industry, particularly in fast-paced settings.

This experience can include positions such as a restaurant cashier, prep cook, or restaurant server. Familiarity with operating a drive-thru system, such as taking orders, managing multiple restaurant orders at once, and handling cash and card transactions, is also essential.

How Much Do Drive-Thru Operators Make?

Glassdoor states that drive-thru operators in the United States area make an estimated total pay of $34,806 per year, with an average salary of $32,896 yearly.

This information is based on the reported salaries of current and former drive-thru operators who have anonymously shared their compensation on Glassdoor. 

Reported salaries can vary depending on the location, experience, and company, which is important to consider.

Are There Any Advancement Opportunities for Drive-Thru Operators?

Yes, there are advancement opportunities available for drive-thru operators. Many fast-food chain restaurants offer promotions and internal advancement opportunities for their employees, including those who work in the drive-thru. 

Drive-thru operators can advance to positions, such as shift supervisor or restaurant manager with additional training and experience. Additionally, skills learned as a drive-thru operator such as customer service, time management, and team collaboration can be transferable to other industries, providing further professional growth and advancement opportunities.

How Do You Say Drive-Thru On a Resume?

To say "drive-thru" on a resume, you can list it as a skill or experience under the job where you worked in a drive-thru position. For example, "Proficient in drive-thru operations while working at XYZ Fast Food Restaurant."

What Are the Working Hours for Drive-Thru Operators?

Drive-thru operators typically work varying shifts that cover both day and night hours, depending on the business's hours of operation. These shifts may include early morning hours as well as late-night shifts. Some restaurants may operate 24/7 and require drive-thru operators to work overnight shifts. 

The duration of your work can differ based on the employer, but working on weekends and holidays may be mandatory.

Overall, drive-thru operators may work flexible schedules that often require them to adjust to the restaurant's demands and peak hours of business.