Chick-fil-A was recently named America’s favorite fast food restaurant, but the chain just topped a much less flattering list.
According to QSR magazine’s Drive-thru report, Chick-fil-A has the slowest drive-thru time of 10 popular restaurants, at 325 seconds, or about 5 1/2 minutes, on average. Wendy’s, whose founder Dave Thomas is credited with pioneering the drive-thru concept, was also among the slowest restaurants surveyed at 275 seconds, or nearly 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, the fast-food restaurant known for its Mexican pizzas and chalupas has the fastest drive-thru time. Taco Bell processes customer orders at the drive-thru in 222 seconds, or just over 3.5 minutes, according to the report. Taco Bell’s speeds are high because the company “has focused on streamlining the ordering process to alleviate bottlenecks and advance our internal technology to simplify order fulfillment,” a carrier said. speak in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch.
One of the reasons the drive-thru line at Chick-fil-A is slower is that the restaurant tends to have a higher volume of drive-thru cars than other fast-food chains, according to the report. Another reason is that workers at Chick-fil-A approach the drive-thru with a different goal in mind, Matt Abercrombie, the chain’s senior director of services and hospitality, told QSR.
“[W]We know that in drive-thru the customer wants speed and accuracy, but they don’t want to feel rushed,” Abercrombie said in the report, which drew its findings from a survey of 1,000 customers who visited a fast food restaurant last month.
Wendy’s did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. Its chief operating officer, Deepak Ajmani, told QSR that the company is upgrading its digital order-taking process, which includes placing orders on Wendy’s mobile app and self-service kiosks in the lobby.
“We always focus on the number of cars and the speed of service, but the precision and taste of the food as well as overall customer satisfaction and the likelihood of return are also crucial indicators,” he told the point of sale.
Wendy’s drive-thru fills customer orders accurately 79% of the time, putting it last among other popular fast food outlets in the report. Arby leads the list with 89%.
Decades ago, drive-thru was an afterthought in the fast food industry, as most customers preferred to order and often dine out. But in recent years, drive-thru has grown in importance. At the height ofdrive-thru became a vital asset as restaurants closed their lobbies in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
In April, May and June 2020, drive-through visits accounted for 42% of all visits to fast food restaurants, according to market research firm NPD Group.