CNN

These fast food restaurants have the best drive-thrus, study says

Oct 9, 2022, 3:55 PM | Updated: 3:58 pm

Florida, Brooksville, Chick-fil-A, fast food chicken restaurant, drive thru line due to Pandemic. A...

Florida, Brooksville, Chick-fil-A, fast food chicken restaurant, drive thru line due to Pandemic. A recent study showed Chick-fil-A had the slowest one — but only because it's so popular and there are so many cars in line. (Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group Editorial/Getty Images)

(Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group Editorial/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Every second counts in drive-thru lanes for fast food chains. A recent study showed Chick-fil-A had the slowest one — but only because it’s so popular and there are so many cars in line.

Taco Bell led the pack in speed of service, with an average time of about 221 seconds, followed by Dunkin’ Donuts, KFC and Arby’s. But this metric doesn’t factor the number of cars in line. In that category, Chick-fil-A is the clear leader, with 16% of its lines surveyed counting ten or more cars. McDonald’s, which was in second place, only had 2% with that many customers.

Based on the total time cars spent in line, Chick-fil-A came out on top, with an average of about 107 seconds. McDonald’s came in second at 118 seconds, followed by Taco Bell and Arby’s.

QSR and Intouch Insight published its annual Drive-Thru Report, surveying more than 1,000 consumers who ranked ten industry leaders: Wendy’s, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Taco Bell, and KFC.

Drive-thrus got bogged down last year mostly because of a shortage of restaurant workers, as thousands left the industry. The pandemic surge of drive-thru and pickup and delivery orders only exacerbated the issue

But luckily for customers, drive-thrus have gotten nearly 10 seconds faster compared to last year — and that can be a big advantage in this highly competitive industry.

“Mere seconds can be a make-it or break-it in terms of where a consumer decides to order,” Amanda Topper, a research director at Mintel, said to CNN Business last year.

However, the current average is still about 45 seconds slower than the 2019 pace. The study said pre-sell menu boards, order accuracy and friendliness helped decrease the wait times at drive-thrus this year.

 

Service and speed

 

During peak Covid, Chick-fil-A was one of the first brands to close its dining rooms, focusing its attention on bringing hospitality to the drive-thru outside.

“We believe that looking eye-to-eye with the customer allows for a connection that happens at the beginning of the drive-thru,” Matt Abercrombie, Chick-fil-A’s senior director of service and hospitality, said in the study.

The researchers found that Chick-fil-A had fine tuned the “check-point system,” which keeps customers engaged through different interactions with employees.

And that’s clear in consumer sentiment too — 88% of respondents said Chick-fil-A had friendly service, placing it at the top of the industry. Only 1.7% said the service was “not friendly.”

But when it comes to customer satisfaction, respondents said Arby’s had the most accurate orders filled, at 89.6%. McDonald’s and Burger King closely followed.

 

Wendy’s

 

Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas named the first modern drive-thru in 1970, coining the term “Pick-Up Window.” And though the company this year announced a makeover that places an “emphasis on convenience, speed and accuracy,” it has lagged behind its competitors in the survey.

The chain plans to redesign its interiors and implement new pick-up windows and a more technologically advanced kitchen.

The pandemic has opened up a new consumer demand for the drive-thru, pressuring fast food companies to upgrade signage, sanitation and technology.

In the survey, Wendy’s came in 7th for speed of service and was also the lowest for order accuracy, at 79.4%. CNN Business has reached out to Wendy’s for comment.


The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

CNN

Four menthol vaping products were authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration on Friday, the ...

Jen Christensen, CNN

FDA sign-off on menthol e-cigarettes ‘flies in the face of public health,’ anti-tobacco groups say

Four menthol vaping products were authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration on Friday, the first non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products to get the agency’s sign-off. The decision drew harsh criticism from pediatricians and anti-tobacco groups.

2 hours ago

Ten people have been shot, 2 fatally, following an active shooter incident at Mad Butcher Grocery i...

Zoe Sottile and Justin Lear, CNN

Three dead, 10 wounded, in Arkansas grocery store shooting, authorities say

Three people were killed and 10 wounded in a shooting at a grocery store in Fordyce, Arkansas, the Arkansas State Police said in a news conference Friday.

4 hours ago

Researchers were able to locate a specific gene variant correlated with some people's weight gain, ...

Madeline Holcombe, CNN

Researchers have found a ‘clear genetic trigger for obesity’ that applies to some people

Obesity isn’t just a matter of food and exercise — it may be in your genetic code, according to new research.

21 hours ago

TikTok ramps up attacks on Biden administration in challenging prospective ban, and seen here, a vi...

Brian Fung, CNN

TikTok ramps up attacks on Biden administration in challenging prospective ban

TikTok ramped up its attacks on the Biden administration Thursday over a law that could ban the popular app from the United States, arguing in a court filing that US TikTok users could be forced to live on an “island” of content disconnected from the rest of the world if the platform is forced to find a new owner.

23 hours ago

Trucks have been delivering a nonstop stream of packages from Temu to a home in the western suburbs...

Tara Molina, WBBM

An Illinois family keeps getting packages they never ordered from Temu

Trucks have been delivering a nonstop stream of packages from Temu to a home in the Illinois suburbs lately, but the family is not ordering anything.

24 hours ago

Dave Drewry's pet donkey, Diesel disappeared in California five years ago and he’s been spotted l...

Scottie Andrew, CNN

A pet donkey disappeared in California five years ago was spotted living with a herd of wild elk

For years, Diesel's owners assumed the worst happened to their donkey after he ran away. But, a hunter found a particular sight when he was hunting deer earlier this year.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

These fast food restaurants have the best drive-thrus, study says