Saturday, March 22, 2008

Why Culver's Gets My Drive-Thru Money

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!


Anonymous said...

*applauds culver's*

I may go there today and push the button!


Jodi Cutler Del Dottore said...

And thank you, Karen...Shake 'em up girl! Live for you and your advocating self! Jodi

J.J. said...


Count me as a customer of Culver's if I ever drive by one...

Deb Ann said...

Thumbs up, Karen!

My daughter works at Culver's and I love their burgers and FRIES.

Jim said...

I never been into Culver's and I will check it out. I just located one neary my home and its only a few miles away from me. Thanks for sharing.

Happy Easter.


Anonymous said...

Are their shakes as good? Lol....


Jodi said...

My partner and I discovered our first Culvers in Branson Missouri,2 yrs ago,, we were sold on the quality of their food..and the friendliness..We have not yet tried the drive thru, but you can bet we will try it out when we arrive to the USA this fall
Karen u did good :-D
Jodi In Holland

Celeste said...

I have never heard of them. If I ever see one I will check them out.
Ready for some ironic? there is a steak and shake ad on your blog.

Abbie said...

Ya know, that sounds very similar to what England has. From what I hear (no pun intended) :) they have T-coil unduction loops around registers so they can hear the person behind the registers. They let the hard of hearing community know by a sign said that they can activate the T-coil...

This is something to present to many of the drive through restaurants and major dept stores!

Anonymous said...

Karen, i am a hearing person and i read about your ordeal with Steak 'n Shake. Since moving to Illinois from the south i am having to try all these new restaurants. I googled Culvers to see if they were a drive-thru place and lo and behold your blog came up. Now its one more reason to try Culvers. I think you are making a big impact. Way to go!