Chick-fil-A has gone viral for many reasons – but the popular fast food restaurant recently found itself at the top of a list it may not have wanted to be on.
According to industry magazine QSR’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 one of the slowest of the 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 time. Taco Bell completes customers’ orders in 222 seconds, or just over 3 1/2 minutes, according to the report.
A spokesperson for Chick-fil-A declined to comment, referring CBS MoneyWatch to the comment a company official provided to QSR. Taco Bell and Wendy’s did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
One reason the drive-through line at Chick-fil-A’s is slower is that the restaurant tends to have a higher volume of cars in traffic than other fast-food chains, according to the report. Another reason is that Chick-fil-A employees approach the drive-thru with a different goal in mind, Matt Abercrombie, the chain’s senior director of service and hospitality, told QSR.
“[W]I know the customer wants speed and accuracy, but they don’t want to be rushed,” Abercrombie said in the report, which drew its conclusions from a survey of 1,000 customers who visited a fast-food restaurant last month.
Wendy’s CEO Deepak Ajmani told QSR that the company is upgrading its digital ordering process, which includes placing orders on the Wendy’s mobile app and at self-service kiosks in the lobby.
“We still focus on car numbers and speed of service, but the accuracy and taste of the food as well as overall customer satisfaction and the likelihood of returning are also critical indicators,” he told the agency.
Wendy’s Drive-thru fills customers’ orders accurately 79% of the time, placing the latter among other popular fast food joints on the show. Arby’s topped that list with 89%.
Decades ago, drive-thrus were an afterthought in the fast food industry because most customers preferred to order out and often dine in the restaurant. But in recent years, the drive-thru has grown in importance. At his height coronavirus pandemicdrive-thrus became a vital asset as restaurants closed their lobbies in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.
In April, May and June 2020, drive-thru visits accounted for 42% of all visits to fast food restaurants, according to market research firm NPD Group.