Wendy's has the fastest service, but Chick-fil-A is most accurate
In less time than it takes some computers to power up, Wendy's can get a customer in and out of its drive-thru.
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 more than three minutes — to do the same. But the chicken company has the best accuracy ratings, getting 92.4 percent of drive-thru 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 percent of its drive-thru 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-thru performance.
The outdoor service stations can account for up to 70 percent 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 percent of its drive-thru units classified as delivering a pleasant experience or better. Burger King, with 61.7 percent, had the lowest percentage of pleasant encounters.
Just 57 percent of workers at all the chains said "please," while 85.9 percent said "thank you." Seven in 10 doled out smiles.
Over the summer, researchers swarmed fast food drive-thru, timing themselves as well as other vehicles. They collected data from 4,071 trips through the line.