If you’re trying to decide whether to use the drive-thru lane to get your food or go inside a fast-food restaurant, you might give the drive-thru lane another try.
Sure, it seemed to be a caravan of vehicles during the pandemic, taking forever to get your food. But an annual study from Intouch Insight found drive-thru lanes are moving faster than they did just a year ago.
The survey was based on visits to some of the most popular restaurants – Arby’s, Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’, Hardee’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Wendy’s. The average time spent in line declined by 29 seconds.
“This improvement was mostly due to decreased wait time which dropped by an average of 25 seconds,” the authors wrote. “Wait time is defined as the time from when the shopper enters the drive-thru line to when they start to place their order. Since customers can easily leave the line before placing their order, the faster brands can get them to the order window the better.”
Service time also improved
The survey found that service time, the time it takes for shoppers to place their order until they exit the drive-thru with their food, only improved by four seconds.
While KFC, Carl’s Jr. and Taco Bell benefited from fewer cars in their drive-thru lanes, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A and Wendy's handled their usual number of patrons with increased speed.
However, overall speed in the drive-thru lane is still slightly slower than it was in 2019, just before the start of the pandemic.
During the pandemic, some fast food restaurants closed their dining rooms and were slow to reopen them because of staff shortages. Most began to encourage ordering on their apps, providing an alternative to the drive-thru lane.