7 POS Systems With The Best Drive-Thru Ordering Systems
In the restaurant industry, operating a successful drive-thru can be a tricky but ultimately rewarding proposition. With a high level of customer turnover and orders being taken in rapid-fire, you need a streamlined system in all facets to maximize your profits. You may also be dealing with a large number of employees, all utilizing the same equipment in a frenetic environment. This makes the selection of a quality point of sale system extremely important.
Drive-thrus have long been an American staple, as they combine several things Americans love: speed, convenience, and driving. During the pandemic, drive-thrus are especially attractive to many diners who want to eat restaurant food (or drinks, ice cream, coffee, smoothies, etc.), but they are concerned about the potential health risks of going inside a restaurant or can’t dine in because it isn’t currently permitted in their city or state due to COVID-19.
There are many top-rated foodservice systems on the market suited to meet at least the basic needs of most restaurants. Some have unique integrations and functions that can give you a leg up on the competition, make sure you are maximizing your profit stream, and ensure as much return business as possible. For example, there are peripheral POS equipment and signage, as well as features, such as kitchen printers and kitchen display systems. Many drive-thru systems for restaurants have integrated loyalty programs, contactless payment acceptance, online ordering, and other forward-thinking features. You need a drive-thru ordering system with tools that are going to help your restaurant run efficiently, especially given that drive-thru sales are a staple for many restaurants right now and the foreseeable future.
Whether you’re an existing restaurant owner who doesn’t like your current POS system or a new owner who is looking to incorporate a drive-thru into your restaurant, we got you. Read on to learn about the best drive-thru systems for restaurants.
Other Featured Options:
- Revention POS: Best for a QSR franchise POS.
- Lavu POS: Best for an iPad POS with a local server option.
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Table of Contents
Best Drive-Thru Systems
The best drive-thru systems have features that speed up your drive-thru line and make it easier to manage your restaurant. These top drive-thru ordering systems are cloud-based POS with some offline functionality. Compare their features to find the best drive-thru order system for your QSR.
Revel POS Systems
- Customer-facing display
- Full offline functionality
- Unlimited users
- Multiple payment processing options
- Can get pricey with add-ons
- Requires an annual or multi-year contract
Top-rated Revel Systems is one of the most functional iPad POS systems currently on the market, both for its feature-depth and its versatility. This quick-serve POS can be used in a single-location kiosk or easily handle a restaurant with multiple franchises. It also has some very convenient features for drive-thrus, including a customer-facing display option. This helps to streamline the ordering process and significantly cuts down on the potential for errors, as the customer can see each product in front of them as it is entered. The customer can then confirm or ask for changes before they get to the window.
Revel’s easy employment management system also comes in handy, as both hours and payroll are kept on the same platform, cutting down on confusion in a system that dozens of employees may be using each day. The system allows for unlimited users, so each employee can have their own account. Revel also features an “Always On” mode that will keep the system functional during any internet issues. Inventory is tracked in real-time; in a business where ingredients are flying off the shelves, you can know the instant a product is getting low.
Revel pricing starts at $99/month (billed annually) with a three-year contract with Revel Advantage (Revel’s in-house payment processor). You may be able to choose a shorter contract or use your own merchant account, but this will be more expensive. Add-ons, such as a kitchen display system, loyalty program, self-service kiosk, or customer-facing display, will also drive up the monthly price.
- Made specifically for restaurants
- Customer management features
- Quick-serve mode
- Must use Upserve Payments for processing
- Has more features than most drive-thrus need
Upserve, an iPad POS made specifically for restaurants, has prided itself on exceptional usability since its inception. Founded by a group of former restaurant workers, this POS is remarkably friendly for employees, has a high level of mobility, and offers plenty of integrations to suit a wide variety of businesses. Upserve can be run at a wide variety of locations, and the Upserve Live function, which is available on any smartphone, can quickly and effectively monitor performance at each store.
Managers can keep tabs on a busy drive-thru’s sales, see what items are selling quickly, and even track what customers are returning and what they’re purchasing. Upserve’s extremely intuitive interface, which can be run in “Server” mode or “Quick Serve” mode, also walks employees through fast-paced orders, cutting down on costly mistakes. One of the more unique features of this POS is its easy-to-read heat map, which displays the busy times of a day and can even match up a company’s most capable employees with the best possible shifts for them to work.
Upserve pricing starts at $59/month for core features. If you want advanced features, such as menu optimization, loyalty, customer management, low inventory alerts, and recipe costing, you’ll need to spring for the $199/month package. Upserve can only be used with Upserve’s in-house payment processor, Upserve Payments. Upserve offers more features than most drive-thru-only restaurants need (such as table management and course management). But if you don’t need all the bells and whistles, the “core” package is pretty affordable.
- Android tablets = cheaper hardware costs
- Made specifically for restaurants
- Customer-facing display
- Digital ordering options
- Must use Toast Payments for processing
- Lengthy service contract with ETF
Android-based Toast continues to be one of the most innovative restaurant POS systems on the market, and the area in which it thrives — customer-facing digital payments — makes it a terrific option for a fast-moving drive-thru operation, particularly in the time of COVID-19. Toast is highly mobile, and its design is intuitive and accessible. Reporting is a highlight, giving managers access to information in real-time, showing sales, wait times, net sales, tips, etc.
Toast is also one of the more user-friendly POS systems for customers. Not only is there a way for customers to access their loyalty points remotely, but they can also use Toast’s popular online ordering system, making the order pickup at a drive-thru window hassle-free. The Toast Takeout App also lets customers place easy orders for contactless pickup and/or delivery. With Toast, all locations of a particular business can be accessed from the same device. Even more complicated changes (such as price switches) can be done easily and quickly on a mobile device. Like nearly all good POS systems, Toast is also highly customizable, giving you the ability to put frequently ordered items in easy-to-find locations.
Toast’s monthly software pricing ranges from $0 to $272/month and could be even higher depending on how many registers you have and whether you use add-ons such as a kitchen display system or payroll. It’s important to know that you must use Toast Payments as your merchant account when you sign up. You will also likely have to sign a two-to-three-year contract with an early termination fee should you choose to leave your contract early. So make sure you test-drive this restaurant POS first before you invest in it for your drive-thru. It has a lot of similarities to Upserve, so if you are interested in one of these systems, I’d recommend testing the other as well.
4. NCR Silver
- Drive-thru mode
- Offline functionality
- Users own their data (includes report/data download)
- Longest history in the market
- The quality of merchant services depends on where you buy your system
- Not EMV-enabled
NCR Silver is a sleek cloud POS that strives to fit in with a client’s unique retail or restaurant needs. Despite having the expertise of software giant NCR behind it (over 130 years, though iPad-based Silver’s only been around since 2012), Silver does a nice job of appealing to small to mid-sized operations. NCR’s towering status in the payment processing market is also a big-sell for multistore drive-thru operations, especially since the software has a dedicated “drive-thru” mode designed for quick service.
The software is highly customizable and sold by a number of different merchant service providers; the quality of your experience with NCR Silver may depend a lot on which company you buy your system from, so it’s important to choose a good one.
As for pricing, NCR Silver’s “Restaurant Pro” version of its software is $178/month, with a 24-month contract that includes the POS hardware and all features — that’s if you buy from NCR directly. This iron-clad contract also has an ETF with liquidated damages, unfortunately. However, various other merchant service entities also sell NCR. You will likely be able to get a better deal from a provider such as Dharma Merchant Services, an ethical MSP that sells NCR Silver for $149/month.
- Low monthly price
- Purchase ordering
- Inventory management
- Apple Pay-ready
- Limited offline mode (can’t accept credit cards offline)
- Basic reporting suite
talech does a little bit of everything, and it does it all well. This iPad POS works well across multiple locations, allowing managers to make pricing adjustments quickly and keep tabs on inventory. This POS’s inventory management is superb, a huge plus in the drive-thru industry. Product history can be easily tracked along with how well various products are performing. It’s also simple to group items and track materials and ingredients for all locations. Purchase orders can be created and auto-generated in the system to help with restocking. While relatively simplistic, talech also has a user-friendly interface, and a basic setup can be done in a matter of minutes and rather intuitively.
talech has a highly functional online ordering system that allows for online payments, and it easily tracks customer data, aiding in the pickup process. For in-person, talech can also accept almost any payment type, including chip cards and Apple Pay.
Most notably, talech has an incredible starting price point of only $29/month. This plan includes unlimited devices, five employees, 100 products, and most of the program’s features, including inventory management and employee management. For payment processing, talech integrates with Elavon, Global Payments, Bank of America Merchant Services, Vantiv, Chase, and others. Additionally, talech’s USAePay gateway allows talech customers to connect to all major credit card processors in the US.
- Used by popular fast-food franchises
- Highly customizable
- Combines cloud and legacy system features
- EMV and NFC support
- Expensive upfront cost
- Limited payment processing options
Formerly Revention, HungerRush is a quick-serve restaurant POS that’s been around since 2003. Despite still having a somewhat dated interface that harkens back to the era of its founding, the company has updated its features and device compatibility to the modern age. It now includes iOS and Android tablet support (in addition to PCs) as well as cloud-based features, such as online ordering, cloud reporting, and contactless payment support.
HungerRush is used by several popular fast-food franchises, including Hungry Howie’s and Popeye’s Chicken. This says a lot about its reliability and functionality, even at an enterprise level. However, this scaleable system is also suitable for small to medium quick-service businesses as well, including single-location drive-thrus. Some standout features of this restaurant POS system include its customizability, employee management system, digital signage, top-notch customer service, and offline mode.
HungerRush still some negative attributes of the legacy POS systems of yore. For example, you have to purchase the POS software upfront, rather than pay monthly basis like with most cloud software. Also, the system’s only merchant account integration (WorldPay, formerly Vantiv) comes with a three-year processing agreement and tiered pricing. At the same time, the system is, in some ways, a good compromise between a locally-installed legacy system and a cloud POS system for businesses deciding between the two. Considering the commitment involved and high upfront costs, it’s important to make sure that you love this system before you buy it. So be sure you test the demo version of HungerRush and read user reviews before purchasing.
- Competitive monthly pricing
- Local server option for full offline functionality
- Integrates with PayPal and Square
- Expensive equipment lease
Another exceptionally versatile POS for the restaurant industry is Lavu. iPad-based Lavu has a modern and appealing interface that is highly customizable, even allowing for intricate menu building. The Quick Serve option for order taking is designed to speed up the process and get customers through a line quickly, and, in a business with both walk-in and drive-thru customers, orders can be assigned to specific printers.
The employee management feature, which can assign restrictions to workers, is useful for businesses with a wide variety of employees alternating on a POS system. Lavu features solid multilocation restaurant management, helping to maintain consistency with menus, tax profiles, and inventory. Lavu has a local server integration and a cloud version that can help a company endure an internet outage or slowdown as well. Its kitchen display system integration eliminates printed tickets, simply displaying orders on a TV screen to aid kitchen workers. Additional add-ons, such as Lavu ToGo, allow customers to view a menu online and place to-go orders while their information is stored for future use. You can also choose from options, such as a digital menu board, a customer-facing display, and a PayPal Here-powered self-service kiosk that accepts chip-and-tap payments.
Lavu integrates with several payment processors, including in-house processor LavuPay as well as PayPal, Square, Moneris, and Heartland. The fact that it integrates with flat-rate mobile processors such as PayPal Here and Square makes Lavu a great add-on for users of those basic programs who are happy with the processing but want to upgrade to a more fully-featured restaurant POS.
Lavu has a very competitive price point of $69/month for all features. The only downside of Lavu pricing is that the sales team may try to talk you into an expensive, multiyear equipment lease; however, you also have the option to purchase your Lavu POS hardware outright, which is what we recommend.
What Does Your Drive-Thru System Need Besides A POS?
Listed below are some other pieces of equipment you may need for your drive-thru. Some of these items might be offered from your POS manufacturer, while others you might have to purchase separately:
- Drive-thru intercom system
- Menu boards (digital or static)
- Other external signage (digital or static)
- Self-service kiosk
- Kitchen printers
- An electronic kitchen display system
- Camera system
- Vehicle sensor
- Employee headsets
Keep in mind that you’ll need to make sure that any peripheral POS equipment you purchase integrates with your POS system. Also, you will probably want to ensure your branding is consistent across all of your equipment.
How To Optimize Your Drive-Thru Ordering System
Heed these five smart operational tips to improve your drive-thru’s operations:
- Upgrade Your Menu Board: Upgrading your static menu board to a digital menu board adds eye-catching visual interest to your drive-thru and can be used to upsell, promote specials, and change your menu on the fly. When integrated with your POS system, the digital menu board will automatically update every time you change the menu in your POS.
- Add Online Ordering & Delivery: Many customers want to either order ahead on a website or app or have their order delivered to their doorstep through a service (such as DoorDash). Besides adding a convenient ordering option for customers, letting customers order ahead online also speeds up your drive-thru line. To speed things up even further, you might create a separate drive-thru lane for online/mobile order pickups.
- Include An Order Confirmation Board: Most POS systems give you the option of adding a customer-facing display. You can use this display to show customers’ ordered items and totals. This helps minimizes errors and can also include upselling prompts. Depending on your POS, your customers may also be able to pay using this display and even add a tip. If you want a fully automated order screen, you could add a self-service kiosk.
- Use A Customer Management System: POS systems typically include some customer management or analytics suite, or your system might integrate with third-party customer management software to gain useful information about your customers. Additionally, there are customer detection/analytics systems made specifically for drive-thrus, which can even track your customers’ license plates.
- Consider An Equipment Loan: If you can’t afford to purchase POS equipment outright, you may be able to finance your system, either from your POS company directly or using a third-party equipment loan. Some POS companies offer 0% equipment financing, which is ideal. You should avoid leasing your POS hardware (think of it as renting the hardware rather than making payments on it to own it eventually), as you will almost always end up overpaying for your equipment.
Take The Next Steps With Your Drive-Thru System
Many restaurants may be able to get away with purchasing a point of sale system that is merely “functional.” However, for a business with a heavily trafficked drive-thru, software that is even remotely clunky or confusing can be devastating. You need a functional interface, the ability to track orders over multiple stations, and an easy way for customers to place orders and receive them quickly. Fortunately, there are numerous POS systems on the market that can provide you with these specifications, as well as some other handy integrations. Check out our restaurant POS review section for full reviews of these POS systems and others.
And finally, here is some further reading on topics related to quick-serve restaurants:
- Restaurant Delivery Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Implementing In-House Delivery
- Coronavirus Survival Guide For Restaurants
- Get The Commercial Kitchen Equipment You Need With The Help Of One Of These Equipment Lessors
- What Is A Kitchen Display System & Do You Need One For Your Restaurant?
- The Complete Restaurant Guide To Kitchen Printers & Kitchen Printing Setups
- How Much Does A POS System Cost? Everything You Need To Know About Software & Hardware Prices
In Summary: Best Drive-Thru Systems
- Revel POS Systems: Best for an iPad POS with offline mode.
- Upserve POS: Best for a user-friendly iPad POS.
- Toast POS: Best for an advanced Android POS.
- NCR Silver: Best for a multilocation iPad POS.
- talech POS: Best for a budget iPad POS.
- Revention POS: Best for a QSR franchise POS.
- Lavu POS: Best for an iPad POS with a local server option.