Fast Food Drive-Thrus Are Not As Fast As They Used To Be

Fast food drive-thrus are not as quick as they used to be due to the more complex items featured on the menus. All this information was found in a drive-thru performance study that was released on Monday, September 30.

According to QSR magazine and Insula Research, the average speed at the fast food drive-thrus rose to a little over three minutes; eight seconds longer than last year’s results. The study was conducted using the information from six benchmark chains and one regional chain: Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Krystal, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Yum Brands’, and Taco John’s.

McDonald’s had its slowest average time ever recorded in the fifteen years that this study has been conducted. Out of all the fast food chains, Wendy’s had the quickest time. As for drive-thru time improvement, Burger King was the only fast food chain to have a quicker drive-thru time than it did last year.

According to Sam Oches, editor of QSR magazine, a magazine that covers quick-service and fast-casual restaurants, drive-thru speeds are becoming slower due to the more complex menu items. “Consumers are demanding more fresh, upscale menu items from fast-food restaurants and as these chains are answering that demand, the new menu items take a little more time to assemble,” said Oches.

Fast food chains are feeling the need to compete with healthier and more complex restaurants such as Chipotle and Panera Bread, which are also affordable as well. McDonald’s, for example, now has premium chicken wraps on its menu and Taco Bell has its featured Cantina menu.

Fast food drive-thru lines are also getting longer, contributing to the longer wait times. According to Oches, it’s hard to tell what these slower times mean for the fast food chains. Although customers may not like the wait, a good fast food drive-thru experience is what is the most important to customers.

I have noticed that drive-thru wait times are getting longer, especially at McDonald’s. This, however, doesn’t bother me because like Oches said, I’m much more concerned with my order being correct and getting good customer service versus getting my order in two minutes.

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