Coronavirus slows drive-thru restaurant service times, study finds


If your fast food seems a bit slower these days, it’s not just your imagination – and the coronavirus pandemic may be to blame.

Drive-thru times at 10 of the nation’s top fast food restaurants have increased by almost 30 seconds on average from a year ago, according to a report by market research agency SeeLevel HX. The agency’s annual study found that the average wait time behind the wheel was 356.8 seconds, down from just 327 seconds in 2019.

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Lisa van Kesteren, CEO of SeeLevel HX, said longer wait times were a result of increased traffic, tighter safety standards and increased staff turnover and training related to COVID -19.

“So I’m not surprised to see a drop in the speed of service,” van Kesteren said in a statement.

The study included 1,490 drive-through visits to McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Burger King, Wendy’s, Dunkin ‘, KFC, Taco Bell, Arby’s, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

KFC had the shortest wait time and was the only chain with an average wait time of less than five minutes. (iStock)

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Only KFC, McDonald’s and Taco Bell had faster average waits in 2020, according to the study. KFC had the shortest wait time and was the only channel with an average wait time of less than five minutes. Taco Bell was second with an average wait of 310.2 seconds, followed by Hardee with 321.6 seconds.

Chick-fil-A, which is known for its customer service, had the longest average wait time at 488.8 seconds, or more than eight minutes, according to SeeLevel HX. And despite expectations, Chick-fil-A ranked # 1 in customer reviews for order accuracy, customer service, and taste.

A Chick-fil-A employee waves to a car during a drive-thru in Pembroke Pines, Fla. (AP Photo / Brynn Anderson)

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Burger King saw the biggest increase in total wait times over the past two years. In 2018, he had the shortest wait at 229.2 seconds, according to the study. It increased in 2019 and this year to 344.3 seconds.

Longer wait times aren’t just annoying for customers. They can cost restaurants, according to SeeLevel HX. The agency estimated the potential loss per year at more than $ 32,000 per store.

“Every second has a substantial impact on the bottom line,” said van Kesteren. “And as more restaurants depend on drive-thru for the majority of their income during this pandemic, and possibly in the long term, focusing on improving wait times has never been more critical. by investing in technologies such as menu boards and mobile to stay competitive. “


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