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15 Essential Rules of Drive-thru Etiquette You Really Must Know

Cheryl Mascarenhas Apr 29, 2019
Hungry on your way back from work? Drive in to a 'drive-thru' and grab a quick bite. But before you do, you need to follow these etiquette associated with a drive-thru to maintain a hassle-free transaction.
"..I'm in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life's no fun..."
lyrics of Alabama's 'I'm in a Hurry'
The Situation: It's rush hour and you are late for work. You take off in a dash and completely forget your meal, but your stomach rumbles and rattles and there, on the next bend is a drive-thru to the rescue. You are in a rush no doubt, but there's a moment to spare, time enough to collect your meal and rush off again.
The Reality: You are in a rush that you want your meal immediately; thus begins an impatient wait, honking follows and you leave the place highly irritated.
Agreed. You are busy, you've got to rush, you don't want to be stressed, not because of food at least. Save yourself and others a stressed-out day by following simple etiquette when visiting a drive-thru.

Drive-thru Manners

Drive-thru services are a convenient means for people who are in rush or want a quick bite. For people who hate queuing up inside a fast food joint, a drive-thru is a blessing in disguise. The basic etiquette to be followed when going through a drive-thru is listed here.

Switch Off your Cell Phone

Before you enter a drive-thru, make sure that you switch off your cell phone or temporarily put it on the silent mode. Talking on the phone while ordering your meal is a bad idea. It would not only be a hindrance when placing the order, but also work in holding up the other customers.

Switch Off the Engine

Turn your car to the idle mode. The roaring engine noise is a disturbance, when you have to speak into the speaker to place the order. You wouldn't want to be served the wrong order because you are in a hurry.

Turn Down the Stereo Volume

Anything that will hamper clarity in speech is a big no-no! Turn down your stereo volume for a few minutes; you will save yourself the trouble of having to repeat the order several times over. Besides, a stationary vehicle with blasting volume is a huge put off, so avoid gathering attention towards yourself especially at a drive-thru.

Turn Off those High Beams

'Where there is darkness, let there be light' is not applicable, if the drive-thru is already well-lit. Flashing your pearly whites is more than enough; you do not have to glare those headlights into the drive-thru. Use the parking lights if the visibility is low.

Strictly No Smoking

Put off that stub immediately! You do not want to choke the poor person standing on the other end of the counter with a belch of smoke. Same goes for the car's exhaust; another valid reason why you should switch off your car at a drive-thru.

Speak Loud and Clear

Now that it's your turn, place your order by speaking loudly and clearly into the microphone provided. Whatever you do, do not shout into the microphone as it may sound rude to the employee. Remember to be polite, slow, clear and audible and repeat your order, if need be.

Stick to Your Order

Be sure of what you want to order and then stick to it. Do not change your order once you have placed it. Avoid going back to the placed order and make changes in it, as the grill staff begins to prepare your meal as soon as you ask for it.

Avoid Group Orders

When you drive in with a car full of people, it is advisable that you assign the duty of ordering to a particular member, rather than creating a mess by having everyone yell out their orders. You never know what you will get owing to the confusion.

Keep the Order Small

If you are ordering for a truck load, it would be wise to park and enter the restaurant to have your meal, than holding up others outside. Besides, you can take a few minutes break especially, if you've been driving for a long period of time.

Tender Exact Change

You know the cost of the meal you have just ordered; it is intelligible to keep the correct amount of cash ready. Apart from saving you trouble of hunting for change, it will also avoid a holdup for the others.

Be Organized

Yeah! You need to make space to keep your meal before it is your turn at the counter. Do not fumble at the last minute hunting for place to stack your food packet. It may result in a food/drink spill and you may also end up delaying the turn of the others in the line.

Be Patient

Patience, as we know, is a virtue. Avoid honking, yelling and tailgating unnecessarily behind another customer. It's bad manners to vent your frustrations on the person in front of you. Give them their space and eventually you will have your own.

Elementary Manners that Matter

Respect the Employee

That's something you've got to remember. The employees are just doing their job, it's not because of them that you are delayed.


You are on camera. There are people looking at you on the other end, and the least you can do is - smile.

Courtesy Call

Last but not the least, thank the employee before leaving.
There you have it; an entire list of things to be kept in mind before you venture anywhere near a drive-thru. After all, "Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential" as quoted by Will Cuppy.