My mom and my sister excitedly emailed me. "We went through the Culver's drive-thru!" they said.
So why were they so excited?
They liked the "Order Assist" system that Inclusion Solutions installed in several of Culver's restaurants. Quite simply, there is a sign with a large button near the speaker of a drive-thru. When customers press the button, this alerts the drive-thru employee that the customer needs assistance. Culver's has pre-printed menus and pads and pens ready for customers.
I spent some time talking with Patrick Hughes, Jr., the owner of Inclusion Solutions after getting the drive-thru window closed on me at my local Steak 'n Shake. I learned that he also has a system that includes an induction loop for hard of hearing persons and cochlear implant users. This allows those with t-coils in their hearing aids and cochlear implants to get the speaker orders transmitted directly into their hearing aids and implants.
After spending a considerable amount of time on the drive-thru issue and time with Inclusion Solutions, I was able to give Patrick some feedback on how to improve a few things in the system to make service even better and more equal for deaf, hard of hearing and speech-challenged customers.
I learned that Patrick has spent years, literally YEARS, on the drive-thru issue but restaurants are unwilling to change their way of service. When a large corporation was faced with this issue, their answer to the issue was to simply slap a sign on the speaker.
So what's the problem with signs? Signs still don't alert the employees that assistance is needed. More than once, I have driven up to a drive-thru and as soon as the window opens, I'm handed the order of the driver behind me. I still encounter flustered employees who don't know what to do and have to take the time to figure out how to keep the orders straight.
(Photo description: Karen and Ron, the manager of Culver's in Romeoville, IL)
I went to the Romeoville Culver's near me and met with the manager, Ron. When I asked Ron why he chose to install the system, he said, "When deaf customers come in here and they see the Order Assist system, their eyes light up. They know they are welcomed here."
I emailed Craig Culver, whose father founded the Culver's chain and asked him similar questions. Craig's father, George, was hard of hearing all of his life. While his father was the motivation behind his decision to add Order Assist, Craig shared, "I believe in doing the right thing and in my opinion it was simply the right thing to do and a good business decision, too."
And because of that, I make every effort to patronize Culver's and use their drive-thrus and I encourage others to do the same. Thank you, Culver's!