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Industry News

Drive-throughs innovate to keep up with orders

October 9, 2018

Drive-through windows are a crucial component of business for major quick-service restaurant chains.

Most of these chains report that about 70 percent of their sales occur at the drive-through window, according to QSR magazine. Consequently, the chains are more focused than ever on boosting the accuracy and speed of service at their drive-throughs, according to the trade journal's 2018 QSR Drive-Thru Study.

The chain with the fastest drive-through service is Burger King, at an average of 193.31 seconds per visit, according to QSR. The industry average is 234.08 seconds. Chick-fil-A is deemed the chain with the most accuracy, averaging a 97.3 percent accuracy rate. The industry average is 89.7 percent.

For shopping center landlords, the number of visits to the drive-through is more important than the speed or accuracy rate, though those latter two factors certainly influence the former. Chick-fil-A consistently had more cars in line at its drive-through, according to QSR — six vehicles or more in line, 38.9 percent of the time the chain's drive-throughs are open. By contrast, Arby’s restaurants had that same number of vehicles in line only 0.6 percent of the time.

Quick-service chains continue to introduce new technologies to help create more omni-channel ordering experiences for customers. Many chains are also incorporating mobile commerce into their drive-throughs. Dunkin’ Donuts says it plans to include a mobile-order-only lane among the drive-throughs of its new stores. And Chipotle says it will open a drive-through unit in Ohio — its very first — exclusively for mobile-order pickup. Not every operator has the real estate for a second lane, though.

Wendy’s is working to make sure its ordering app syncs up better with the drive-through experience. “If you think about mobile devices as a handheld kiosk, there’s a lot of opportunity for growth there,” said Deepak Ajmani, the chain's vice president of restaurant services, as reported in QSR. “Imagine a fast-food world where you place your order on your phone, drive up to the pickup window, and there it is. Made fresh, just as you ordered.”

By Brannon Boswell

Executive Editor/SCT

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