Chick-fil-A might have the slowest drive-thru, study says


SPRINGFIELD, VA – JULY 26: The sign of a Chick-fil-A is seen July 26, 2012 in Springfield, Virginia. The recent comments on supporting traditional marriage which made by Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy has sparked a big debate on the issue. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

When it comes to fast food, one study says Chick-fil-A is the slowest.

A drive-thru performance study published by QSR found that customers spend an average of about 255 seconds, or about 4.25 minutes, waiting in drive-thru lines between the speaker and the order window.

At Chick-fil-A, however, the study says you can expect to wait 323 seconds, or about 5.4 minutes.

The root cause of the issue, according to the study, isn’t poor service. It’s the demand.

QSR reports the constantly crowded lanes don’t show any sign of dying down in the near future.

One way Chick-fil-A is working to speed those lines up is by walking up to your car and taking your order on a tablet.

“We are embracing technology to both provide a better experience for guests and to help take tasks off restaurant team members so they can devote more time to hospitality for our customers,” Khalilah Cooper, Chick-fil-A’s director of service and hospitality, told QSR.

The study found the fastest option out there is Dunkin’ with a wait time of about 217 seconds, or 3.6 minutes.

QSR attributes that speed to a simpler menu and some digital ingenuity.

“At several of our Dunkin’ NextGen locations, we feature an On-the-Go drive-thru lane, which allows guests who order ahead through the Dunkin’ mobile app to bypass the regular drive-thru lane to pick up their orders and get on their way even faster than before,” Scott Murphy, COO for Dunkin’ U.S, told QSR.

Here’s the magazine’s full list from fastest to slowest, measured in seconds:

  1. Dunkin’ — 216.75
  2. Wendy’s — 230.38
  3. Burger King — 235.48
  4. Taco Bell — 240.38
  5. Carl’s Jr. — 240.51
  6. KFC — 243.73
  7. Arby’s — 263.46
  8. Hardee’s — 266.34
  9. McDonald’s — 284.05
  10. Chick-fil-A — 322.98

What’s the best time of day to go through the drive-thru?

What may be the most surprising revelation of the drive-thru study is the time of day drive-thrus tend to be at their slowest.

No, it’s not the lunch rush. It’s not even the dinner run. It’s the late afternoon.

The average customer has to wait about 275 seconds, or about 4.6 minutes, to get through a drive-thru in the late afternoon.

Dinner and lunch aren’t far behind at 258 seconds and 256 seconds, both about 4.3 minutes.

Mid-morning came in at 250.57, or 4.2 minutes.

The quickest turn around was breakfast, at only 239 seconds, or about 4 minutes.

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