Fast Food Face Off: The Fastest and Slowest Drive-Thru
We’ve all been there. Waiting in a drive-thru line, wondering if it’s going to be a smooth ride or a total mess. The small things that can make or break your experience at the drive-thru. A friendly staff and a quick order make us smile. But getting the wrong meal and a long wait when you’re in a hurry can make for a bad experience.
QSR Magazine recently published its annual Drive-Thru Study, providing insights into the speed, accuracy, and friendliness of various fast-food chains’ drive-thru service. To carry out this research, the food service industry magazine conducted 1,491 drive-thru visits in June and July of the current year. These visits were evenly distributed across breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours, encompassing fast-food chains nationwide. On average, they frequented ten chains and placed orders at approximately 165 restaurants, representing each chain.
The fastest drive-thru for the third straight year.
According to their findings, Taco Bell secured the title of the fastest drive-thru for the third consecutive year. On average, customers received their orders in 278.84 seconds, nearly 30 seconds faster than Carl’s Jr, the next quickest at 303.74 seconds. The top five included KFC (303.95 seconds), Arby’s (319.64), and Dunkin’ (321.10).
On the other hand, Chick-fil-A has the slowest drive-thru, with orders taking over seven minutes each (436.09 seconds). However, it’s worth mentioning that Chick-fil-A also had the busiest drive-thru lines, with an average of 3.41 cars waiting for their orders, followed by McDonald’s (2.01 cars), Wendy’s (1.50), Taco Bell (0.96), Burger King (0.92), and Dunkin’ (0.78).
Chick-fil-A excelled in customer service, earning a 91% friendliness rating. It’s worth noting that 9% of their associates received a “neutral” rating when interacting with customers, and 0% were labeled as “not friendly.” This makes Chick-fil-A the only chain with a perfect score in that category. Following closely in terms of friendliness were Hardee’s and Taco Bell, both receiving a 79% friendliness rating, while Arby’s and Carl’s Jr were just behind with a 76% friendliness rating.
In terms of order accuracy, Chick-fil-A also claimed the top spot, with a 92% accuracy rate. Burger King followed closely at 90%, with McDonald’s at 88%. Wendy’s and KFC are both at 87%.
Interestingly, they found that order accuracy saw a 7% improvement when restaurants implemented an Order Confirmation Board, allowing customers to both view and confirm their orders with the staff. Additionally, when drive-thru speakers were loud and clear enough for customers to hear the restaurant staff’s instructions, order accuracy experienced a boost of between 11% and 18%.
Speed may not be the ultimate king anymore.
“While speed remains important, it may not be the ultimate king anymore,” Phil Crawford, the chief technology officer at Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s parent company, CKE Restaurants, told QSR Magazine. “With the introduction of new ordering technologies and menu items, speed might be compromised in favor of other aspects such as order accuracy or menu complexity. Still, reducing wait times continues to be a major focus for quick-service restaurants.”
See the complete study breakdown here.