Car sitting in the drive through.

Drive-Through Windows – Solution A Day

Background – Fast Food Dinner

Car sitting in the drive through.
A local krystals drive through.

A few weeks I drove through a McDonald’s restaurant and I went to the speaker and ordered my food. I then went to window one to pay and then to window two. while waiting at the windows.

The Problem – The Drive-Through Windows were left open

window left open
The Krystal’s window can be seen left open.

While at the windows for the drive through I observed that the customer service attendant kept leaving the window open. In fact it was open for more than 50% of the time that my car was at the window. I admit that I have not done a comprehensive study about how frequently drive through windows are left open. However, I have 30 years of experience as a consumer and can recall many occasions where this practice was par for the course. The main problem is that for a good portion of the year restaurants (or rather their owners) are spending money to keep their establishment climate controlled. Leaving the window open unnecessarily adds to the amount of energy used for climate control. In many cases this energy is in the form of electricity. Frequently this electricity is created by burning fossil fuels. Waste like this can significantly add to the total carbon emissions entering the atmosphere. These carbon emissions then add to global warming. Consider that there are more than 200,000 drive-through establishments in the U.S. alone. This is a huge total effect.

I like to promote protecting the environment while simultaneously benefiting people and protecting your pocketbook. This wasteful energy is a direct burden everyone involved. If a business needs to spend an extra $2000 a year on electricity because of this window then they must increase the cost of whatever product they are selling in order to make a profit. The increase in cost is passed on to the consumer who ends up paying for the wasted energy. Remaining competitive in an industry such as fast food absolutely requires keeping costs in check. Fixing the window problem will help with this goal.

The Solution – Close the Window

Perhaps the easiest and cheapest solution is for business owners and managers would be to create and enforce operating procedures to ensure that floor level employees close the window. This is every bit as bad as the 2008 discovery that starbucks was wasting 6 million gallons of water daily in the U.K. by leaving their tap on. A more expensive (but possibly more effective) approach would be to install windows that automatically shut. For the business owner either of these solutions will reduce the bottom line and increase profits. The reduces costs will increase competitive edge either with better paid staff, cheaper prices, or increased profits.

Conclusion – Shut the Window

Shutting the window will save money for everyone. It will also improve the atmosphere for generations to come. If you are an employee who works at a drive through window please remember this the next time you clock-in. I want to stress that many of the environmental problems I talk about are not limited to one company. Rather I mention larger companies because they are present everywhere. In other words while McDonalds and Krystal’s leave their windows open so do many other unnamed companies and Starbucks isn’t the only company who has problems recycling hot beverage cups and saving water they just represent a large portion of their markets.