I work for a small company that refurbishes apple products as well as PCs. For our windows machines we use a Windows deployment server that automates the installation and allows us to install from the network. I would really like to have something similar for loading apple products, but so far it looks like the only solutions for this have been deprecated since MacOS 10.13. The only solutions that I could find online seemed focused on businesses that needed to manage their employees computers. I know that apple is generally not that friendly towards third party refurbishers, but I have to assume that there must be a better solution than using a flash drive to install each one.
Why not set up one Mac for content caching and boot to recovery HD?
This installs at gigabit ethernet speeds and works great for 10 at a time. It’s far less setup than imaging to USB and far better in terms of speed, security and in lining the latest firmware and OS updates effortlessly.
If you have even less time per machine to get the erase rolling, hire an Automaton and some inexpensive software to accelerate your erase and install.
So in terms of time for technician interaction with the Mac, it takes just a few seconds to plug in the Automaton and the external drive, hold the option key to start the startup selector, and then return a few minutes later to disconnect the Automaton and external volume. This can dramatically reduce setup time and result in large savings of time and labor costs.
The Mac software is free and you can get professional / MDM support if you need that level of help.
The hardware is $40 if you need 5 helpers. You won’t need either the hardware or the support if you’re a small shop and Apple and Two Canoes give away the network setup software for free that does what you mention on your Windows option.
I list the prices since it’s very reasonable, but all the software from Two Canoes is open source, free and you only pay if you want to support them or need professional support. I am a happy customer of both Apple and Two Canoes - so consider that disclosure if that helps.