One of the most interesting innovations that came out of fast food dining was the meteoric rise of drive-thrus. Most people go for it as an option in order to save time and grab something while on the go, but is it always the fastest option? QSR Magazine released their annual list of the fastest and slowest options, and more than three minutes of wait time separates the fastest from slowest ones.
The list was compiled from a total of 1537 visits and the time spent was recorded to find averages. KFC came out on top, with an average visit taking about 303 seconds (slightly more than 5 minutes), followed by Hardee’s with 323 seconds, Dunkin’ with 328 seconds, Carl’s Jr. with 347 seconds, Arby’s 357 seconds, Burger King at 363 seconds, McDonald’s at 411 seconds, and Wendy’s at 431 seconds.
In last place was Chick-fil-A, which too an average of 509 seconds, which comes out to about 8.5 minutes, a pretty big difference from KFC. However, is it fair to say Chick-fil-A is the country’s slowest drive-thru service?
According to QSR, this doesn’t really give the full picture. As the report states: “Calling Chick-fil-A the country’s ‘slowest’ drive-thru falls well short on context, as customer sentiment backs. The chain was given a 93 percent for speed of service satisfaction, per the survey, which trailed only Arby’s (96 percent).”
Interestingly, Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru were the most popular, with about 4.74 cars lining up at each visit, as compared to KFC, that had just 1.98 cars on average in line. So that means that actually, by diving average time total by total cars in line, Chick-fil-A was actually the fastest per car. So while the drive-thrus were crowded, the employees kept everything moving.
Speed is not always the most important factor when ordering food, especially if it means an increased chance of getting orders wrong. The chains with highest chance of accuracy were Arby’s and McDonald’s, both scoring 89% of orders correct.
The rest of the list included Burger King with 87%, Carl’s Jr. at 86%, Hardee’s with 85%, Taco Bell at 84%, Chick-fil-A and KFC with 83%, Dunkin’ at 82%, and lastly Wendy’s at just 79%.
Chick-fil-A’s senior director of service and hospitality said that some things can’t be explained with math, saying: “We know in the drive-thru the guest wants speed and accuracy, but they don’t want to feel rushed. We believe that looking eye-to-eye with the customer allows for a connection that happens at the beginning of the drive-thru.”
This might be why Chick-fil-A and Carl’s Jr. topped the list for customer satisfaction, both at 95%, while KFC, which topped the list of fastest drive-thrus, actually came in last place with satisfaction at 87%.