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