Average drive-thru speed at service at seven US quick-service restaurant benchmark chains up to 180.83 seconds this year from 172.64 seconds in 2012, according to annual study; more complex menu items slowing down service
CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina
September 30, 2013
– More Complex Menus Slowing Down Service as Operators Shift Focus to Experience
Fast speed of service in the drive thru has long been a focal point of the quick-service restaurant industry, but QSR magazine's annual Drive-Thru Performance Study found this year that service times are slowing down as fast-food menus become more complex.
The 2013 Drive-Thru Performance Study, co-owned by QSR and Insula Research, found that the average drive-thru speed of service at this year's seven benchmark chains (Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Krystal, McDonald's, Taco Bell, Taco John's, and Wendy's) rose to 180.83 seconds, compared with last year's 172.64-second mark.
"We've been conducting the Drive-Thru Study for the last 15 years, and data has shown that average service times across the industry peaked in the mid-2000s," says Sam Oches, editor of QSR. "However, this year's dip seems especially significant because operators are telling us that as consumers demand more premium, healthy, and customizable menu options, the operational pressures to assemble those items are slowing down the drive thru."
McDonald's experienced its slowest showing in the history of the Drive-Thru Study this year with a 189.49-second tally. Chick-fil-A's 203.88-second mark was its slowest since 1998, while Krystal's 217.89 seconds was its slowest since 1999. Burger King was the only brand that improved speed of service over last year.
To accommodate the new speed-of-service reality, brands report that they are changing their approach to the overall experience in the drive thru. While still attempting to streamline the drive-thru process, the drive-thru benchmark chains are also doubling down on order accuracy, customer service improvements, and technological upgrades.
"One of the greatest benefits of being so close to this study is the ability to see how quickly the quick-service industry adapts to the constantly changing demands of consumers," says Brian Baker, president of Insula Research.
For more information on the Drive-Thru Performance Study, visit www.qsrmagazine.com/2013-drive-thru-study or e-mail Sam Oches at Sam@qsrmagazine.com.
About QSR magazine
QSR magazine is a thought leader for the quick-service and fast-casual restaurant industries. Now in its 16th year of publication, QSR takes seriously its role in promoting industry values through its award-winning editorial content. In 2013, the magazine is spotlighting the many contributions women make to the foodservice industry.