The 2022 Annual Drive-Thru Study is here! This study was first launched 22 years ago and is the leading industry benchmark for drive-thru performance. It examines how ten of the top quick serve brands rank for key metrics like speed, accuracy, and friendliness.
This year, Intouch Insight conducted the study and are releasing the results in partnership with QSR® magazine. The study is based on 1500 mystery shopping visits across different times of the day to capture data on a wide range of experiences.
The full study covers everything from the speed of service to the quality of food. You can download a copy for free here. Or, read on to learn some key takeaways around speed, accuracy, and how friendliness improves both.
Speed of Service
Consumers reported preferring to order take-out through drive-thrus due to convenience, a preference to stay in their cars, and the transaction being faster. This means that speed of service is a great way for brands to attract customers looking for a quick bite.
This year we found brands are getting more efficient when delivering drive-thru orders. The average total time in 2022 was 10 seconds faster than last year. When looking only at the time shoppers spent in the drive-thru, this year had an all-new podium. KFC had the fastest service time overall with Taco Bell and Hardee’s finishing 2nd and 3rd.
However, this doesn't account for how busy the drive-thru was. If we divide the time spent in the drive-thru by the number of cars in line the podium changes significantly. Using this method, Chick-fil-A ranked 1st, continuing their reign as the fastest service, with McDonald's and Taco Bell coming in 2nd and 3rd.
Another factor examined was suggestive selling. An example of this is when an employee asks if the customer would like to upgrade to a combo or larger beverage. While there is a perception that it slows down the speed of service, the data tells another story. Suggestive selling actually increased the speed of service by 20 seconds. Despite this, our shoppers were only offered a suggestive sell only 42% of the time.
Accuracy of Orders
Consumers ranked order accuracy as the most important factor for a positive drive-thru experience. The most common error with orders was the beverage being incorrect - accounting for 34% of the inaccurate orders.
Order accuracy is not only a driving factor for positive customer experiences but also speed of service. On average, accurate orders were 49 seconds faster than inaccurate ones.
Order confirmation boards (OCBs) where customers can review the order input by staff are another way to improve order accuracy. However, the data shows customers do not make full use of these without a reminder. On their own, OCBs increased order accuracy by 2%. But in cases where customers were asked to review the OCB, order accuracy was 7.5% higher. This means brands that implement OCBs need to ensure their staff is trained to have customers check the board in order to get the full benefit.
Friendliness of Staff
Despite consumers not ranking friendliness as significant as factors like speed and accuracy, we found that it had a positive impact on both. Orders where the staff was reported to be friendly were 15% more accurate and over 3.5x faster.
However, overall friendliness has been on a slow decline dropping from 79% in 2019 to 72% in 2022. Based on the overall impact on the speed of service and the average cost of a meal in 2022, unfriendly service can cost brands over $180,000 per location each year.
If brands need one metric to focus on to improve drive-thru performance in 2022, it should be friendliness. Friendliness improves speed of service and accuracy of orders while also providing a better overall customer experience.
For additional results, including customer satisfaction and food quality, download the full report for free here. You can also get the complete research package including interactive dashboards, raw data files, and an orientation session by a member of our team. Simply contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.