Fast-Food Drive-Thrus Not Living Up to Their Name

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Does it feel like you're sitting longer in the drive-thru lane at your favorite fast-food restaurant? You're not alone.

Time’s a-ticking — and for far longer than many hungry diners might prefer when they wait in the so-called fast-food drive-thru line.

Fast-food drive-thru windows continue to slow down, according to latest annual survey from QSR magazine. The typical speed of service has slowed to 226.3 seconds. That’s an increase from 221.9 seconds a year ago and 203.3 seconds two years ago.

But the news isn’t all bad. While serving time is getting longer, fast-food restaurants are becoming more accurate in filling orders. Average accuracy rose to 90 percent in this year’s survey. That’s up from 88.8 percent last year, and 87.2 percent two years before.

The study included 11 big fast-food restaurant chains and four fast-casual chains. QSR and SeeLevel HX timed orders and crunched the numbers at more than 1,900 restaurant locations across the U.S. to determine order accuracy and the average drive-thru wait time.

QSR says getting customers through the drive-thru lane as quickly as possible isn’t restaurants’ primary concern. In an interview with CNBC, QSR editor Sam Oches says:

When the restaurants look at the drive-thru, they’re really prioritizing accuracy and the experience over simply getting them out quickly. They recognize that customers are more angry with rude service or inaccurate service, than slower speed of service.

According to the study, these are the top 10 restaurants based on their drive-thru service speed:

  1. Dunkin’ Donuts: 181.03 seconds average wait time
  2. Burger King: 201.18 seconds
  3. KFC: 203.91 seconds
  4. McDonald’s: 208.16 seconds
  5. Taco Bell: 220.11 seconds
  6. Arby’s: 225.31 seconds
  7. Chick-fil-A: 257.64 seconds
  8. Carl’s Jr.: 268.89 seconds
  9. Hardee’s: 273.73 seconds
  10. Starbucks: 299.80 seconds

This is how the restaurants stacked up when their performance is based on order accuracy:

  1. Carl’s Jr.:  96.7 percent accurate
  2. Chick-fil-A: 94.5 percent
  3. Hardee’s: 93 percent
  4. McDonald’s: 92.2 percent
  5. Taco Bell: 91.7 percent
  6. Arby’s: 91.3 percent
  7. Burger King: 90.5 percent
  8. Starbucks: 88.7 percent
  9. Dunkin’ Donuts: 86.9 percent
  10. Wendy’s: 86.9 percent

What do you think of the results? Share your drive-thru comments or experiences below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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