Wendy’s, Burger King, Chick-fil-A: Who rules the drive-through?

QSR Magazine's annual drive-through report shows Wendy's leading the pack for speed and Chick-fil-A besting rivals for accuracy.
(Nick Ut / AP Photo)

In less time than it takes some computers to power up, Wendy’s can get a customer in and out of its drive-through.

The fast food chain needed 129.75 seconds to clear a car through its queue last year – 16 seconds better than 2010, and faster than any other major chain, according to an annual report from QSR Magazine.

Chick-fil-A takes slightly longer – 190.06 seconds, or just over 3 minutes – to do the same. But the chicken company has the best accuracy ratings, getting 92.4% of drive-through orders correct.

Less impressive: Burger King, which requires 201.33 seconds to serve car-bound customers and also has the worst precision record. The chain correctly delivers 83% of its drive-through orders, down 6.7 percentage points from 2010.


QSR, which focuses on the quick-service restaurant industry, paired up with Insula Research to survey seven fast food joints on their drive-through performance. The outdoor service stations can account for up to 70% of sales at some companies.

Wendy’s was the only chain to improve its average service time last year, and even then, it was slower than the 116.2-second record it set in 2003. The chain has less than two cars in its line at an average point; Chick-fil-A has the most, with more than five.

The chicken eatery was also deemed to have the best customer service, with 92.4% of its drive-through units classified as delivering a pleasant experience or better. Burger King, with 61.7%, had the lowest percentage of pleasant encounters.

Just 57% of workers at all the chains said “please,” while 85.9% said “thank you.” Seven in 10 doled out smiles.

Over the summer, researchers swarmed fast food drive-throughs, timing themselves as well as other vehicles. They collected data from 4,071 trips through the line.


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