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New Research Finds the ‘Fast’ From Fast Food Drive-Thru Widows is Becoming a Thing of the Past

Fast food drive-thru
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Last Friday, my wife and I traveled up to Valparaiso for the weekend and stopped for a bite at a popular fast food place on Hwy 41 near I-64. We did not order combo meals and had no special requests, just two sandwiches and a couple of drinks. After waiting several minutes we heard those dreaded words, “please pull forward and we’ll bring it out to you when ready”. Really? That’s 15 minutes we’ll never get back. According to a new study, the average drive-thru wait time at the top fast food restaurants has increased almost eight seconds from 2012 and isn’t getting any better.

The study looked at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Chick-Fil-A and Taco John’s and the results from fastest to slowest are:

  1. Wendy’s – 133.63 seconds
  2. Taco Bell – 158.03 seconds
  3. Taco John’s – 181.19
  4. McDonald’s – 189.49 seconds
  5. Burger King – 198.48 seconds
  6. Chick-Fil-A – 203.88 seconds

McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-A recorded their slowest times in the history of the study. Burger King actually improved their service speed, but their accuracy went way down. The slower speeds are being blamed on more complicated menu items that take longer and increased vehicle traffic on average.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather wait a minute or two longer and get an order that is right as opposed to great speed with a totally messed up order. What is really frustrating is when they ask if everything on the screen is correct, make you pull forward out of the way because it is going to take even longer and the order is STILL wrong…that’s the worst and there is no excuse for that.

While Chick-Fil-A’s service is slower, their accuracy rate leads the industry at 91.6% accurate. I guess that means ‘good’ is worth waiting for and Chick-Fil-A is good.

In fairness, I also believe that the customers are much more impatient than ever by demanding a speed that is just no longer reasonable. Wanting it your way, if different than how it is normally prepared, will take longer and there is simply no way around that. Part of the wait is also due to the fact that most of the chains are really trying to serve up the freshest food possible…cook to order takes longer, but I see that as good thing as long as they get it right. What do you think?


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