How This Business Owner Used Software to Bring Back a Beloved American Tradition: The Drive-In Movie Theater

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Doreen Sayegh swapped her movie theater for a drive-in and used software to create a safe, efficient experience for employees and customers, giving this ode to American tradition a modern twist.

Doreen Saygeh decided to close her movie theater out of concern for the growing number of COVID-19 cases. Soon after, she had to figure out a way to bring in some revenue to pay the bills.

So, she got creative.

At first, she started selling concessions to-go twice a week, then expanded customers’ options to gift cards and merchandise such as t-shirts. Then, she heard that drive-ins were making a comeback and decided to open one, something she’s always wanted to do.

“A lot of drive-in theaters have closed and you don’t really hear of drive-ins opening,” Saygeh said. “It was definitely something I’ve always wanted to do, and my opportunity came around, surprisingly, in the middle of a pandemic, but if the pandemic has done anything for me, it’s definitely made me a lot more creative.”

When the show must go on, software can help

The first thing she had to figure out was how she was going to put a screen up. She didn’t want to use a blow-up screen, so she built one to give the drive-in an “authentic” feel.

“For those who had been to drive-in, I wanted them to relive that experience, and for those who had never been, I wanted to create a memory for them,” Saygeh said.

Once she built the screen and secured a location, she had to figure out how the drive-in would work, logistically—selling tickets, guiding cars to their spots, and delivering concessions while minimizing contact between customers and staff.

While Saygeh hired an agency dedicated to building websites and apps for movie theaters to help, not every business has the means to hire an app developer. Whatever your budget, it’s possible to achieve similar results with the right software.

Read on to learn how Saygeh used software to address her company’s needs and how you can find software solutions to help you streamline your business.

3 ways software can help you streamline your business

1. Sales management

When Saygeh opened the drive-in, she wanted an easy way customers could buy tickets and concessions while remaining cashless in light of the COVID-19 outbreak paired with easy-to-track sales. Software made both possible.

“We were able to do a lot in advance like [selling] tickets and concessions, and not have to worry about cash and touching money,” Saygeh said. “It would have been a very messy process without technology.”

No matter what kinds of goods you’re selling, point of sale software can help you streamline your sales management process. Common features of POS software include inventory management, payment processing, sales tracking, and discount management.

Sensible Cinema offers businesses a management console that gives them multiple reporting and tracking options (Source)

2. Customer experience

Saygeh’s app also streamlined communication between customers and staff, making it easier to provide a seamless customer experience.

For example, customers could order concessions online, in advance. When customers arrived, a staff member would check their car information and, once confirmed, send a notification to the kitchen that they had arrived. Saygeh said that most of the time, they would have their concessions within 10 minutes of being parked.

“That was something that people really enjoyed, especially the kids,” Saygeh said. “They just parked, and all of a sudden, their food is at the car.”

Saygeh says that in the future, she will likely return to the brick-and-mortar theater but keep the order management software she adopted during the pandemic.

Providing an excellent customer experience can make a huge difference for your company and increase customer loyalty. Software can help with this ongoing goal as we adjust to the new normal, even if you adopted it in response to the pandemic.

Customer experience software can help you collect feedback on what your business is doing well, and what you can improve. Delivery management software can help you streamline delivery to customers and improve your reliability.

Freshdesk offers users a simple interface for fielding customers’ questions, ensuring none get lost and unintentionally ignored (Source)

3. Inventory tracking

Software also allowed Saygeh to track not only total sales but how much of each product she was selling, making it easier to manage inventory.

“We can better plan and prepare,” Saygeh said. “The app gives us an idea of how much popcorn to have on site, how much food, how much candy. We can see how much we’re selling each time very easily.”

Effectively managing your inventory can help you save money, too; businesses that carry excess inventory pay an extra 30% in costs annually. By tracking how much she sold each night, Saygeh was able to better prepare her business according to customer demand and save money in the long run.

Inventory tracking software could help you do the same thing.

InFlow Inventory allows users to run reports to determine how much of each product is in stock (Source)

Software can help improve business functionality

Opening a drive-in helped Saygeh bring in revenue to cover recurring costs of her brick-and-mortar theater, but that’s not the sole reason she decided to do it.

She really wanted to give back to the local community and provide them with some sense of normalcy, even if it’s just for a few hours.

“Once the movie starts, with the exceptions of having to wear a mask, everything is normal—there’s no pandemic,” Saygeh said. “For that hour and a half or two hours, they’re escaping. They’re not thinking about the news or the pandemic.”

Software helped Saygeh transform her business while positively impacting her community, and can aid your endeavors, too.

Learn how your peers are overcoming adversity

Find out how others in the Capterra community are using technology to overcome challenges and learn from one another. We’re in this together.

Note: The software applications referenced in this article were cited by the interviewee in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations.

The applications shown in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.

Looking for Order Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Order Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Toby Cox

Toby Cox

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Senior Content Writer @ Capterra covering software trends and stories of small business resilience. B.A. in Foreign Affairs and Middle Eastern Languages from the University of Virginia. Beekeeper and bookworm. Virginia native. I love yoga, getting lost in new places, and being outside.


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