Annual Drive-Thru Report Released—QSRs Are Getting Faster

The study revealed the average speed of service was 5 minutes and 43 seconds.

March 01, 2024

On February 29, QSR Magazine and Intouch Insight presented the Inside the Annual QSR Drive-Thru Report webinar. Ben Coley, editor of QSR Magazine, and Sarah Becket, director of marketing at Intouch Insight, discussed results from the annual study conducted by Intouch Insight, including a look at data behind which chains perform best in speed of service, order accuracy and customer service.

This study used mystery shoppers nationwide throughout July and August 2023, to measure the performance of 10 leading QSRs: Arby’s, Burger King, Carl’s Jr, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’, Hardee’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Wendy’s.

“While our core methodology has remained the same, we can’t ignore the advancements going on in the industry,” said Becket. “New for 2023, we’ve introduced a new aspect which we call our Innovation Locations.

While not part of the main results, researchers compared performance to the main categories at two locations: Taco Bell Defy in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, with a four-lane drive-thru, and McDonald’s automated, no dine-in location in Fort Worth, Texas.

“These locations have processes and the environment for lots of speed, and the coolness factor—it's an event to go to a location,” said Coley.

The average service time for standard locations was 4m 22s, but when looking at the innovation locations, both beat the average time, with McDonald’s at 3m 49s and Taco Bell at 2m 31s.

In addition to the new category, this year’s report includes performance data across five areas: speed of service, order accuracy, suggestive selling, food quality and overall satisfaction.

Speed of Service and Service Time

Timeliness has improved since 2022, said QSR Magazine. The total time from when shoppers entered the drive-thru line until they exited averaged 5m 43s across all brands included in this year’s study—29 seconds less than last year. Wait time is defined as the time from when the shopper enters the drive-thru line to when they start to place their order.

Service time, the time it takes for shoppers to place their order until they exit the drive-thru with their food, only improved by 4 seconds.

Here are the service time category leaders:

Taco Bell 3:25
Wendy’s 3:49
KFC 3:50
Dunkin 4:23
Carl’s Jr. 4:26

Order Accuracy

The report stated that there was slight improvement in order accuracy, with the average score increasing by 1% compared to 2022. The average accuracy score in 2023 was 86%. This means more than 1 in 10 orders received by customers were incorrect. Accuracy was 18% higher when the speaker customers used to place their order was clear and understandable.

Here are the accuracy category leaders:

Chick-fil-A 92%
Burger King 90%
McDonalds 88%
KFC 87%
Wendy’s 87%

Download the full report.