Drive-thru is big business for fast-food restaurants, full stop. This year’s Drive-Thru Study from QSR Magazine finds that drive-thru sales make up about 70 percent of the average fast-food chain’s business, so it’s incredibly important that these chains keep you happy from the moment you shout into the ordering mic to the moment you’re finally handed that paper bag. How long you spend in between those moments is paramount (as anyone who’s waited hungrily for their Quarter Pounder with Cheese knows) and some fast-food restaurants are speedier than others.
McDonald’s is the slowest, QSR reports, with an average drive-thru time of 273.29 seconds, or just over 4.5 minutes. (This “service time” was defined as the time between stopping at the order station and the receiving of all items, including change.) Chick-fil-A also ranked low in terms of speed, with an average service time of 260.85 seconds, or just over 4.3 minutes. Interestingly, that slow drive-thru speed doesn’t seem to concern Chick-fil-A’s loyal fans, who ranked it highest among many restaurant chains in terms of overall customer satisfaction in a separate survey. At the other end of the speed spectrum, Burger King was the quickest drive-thru chain, averaging 193.31 seconds, or less than 3.5 minutes.
Accuracy of your order also matters. (Drive away, unwrap that burger, find out it’s wrong, and your heart just sinks. Ugh, do you go back? Nah, screw it, you’re just going to eat this sad sandwich you didn’t order.) The average chain fulfills drive-thru orders with just shy of 90 percent accuracy; one restaurant, though, was markedly lower than that: KFC, with accurate orders filled just 69.9 percent of the time. Chick-fil-A scored highest for order accuracy at more than 97 percent—is that what’s taking them so long? McDonald’s also scored above average in the accuracy department, so perhaps that’s the customer trade-off: Do you want your food fastest, or do you want exactly what you ordered?