- Chick-fil-A is testing an express drive-thru lane in about 60 restaurants nationwide and could expand to other locations in 2023, depending on the results of this pilot, the company said Wednesday.
- Customers who order through Chick-fil-A’s app have the option of picking “Drive-Thru Express” as the destination. After arriving at the restaurant, they would follow express lane signs and use the app to scan a QR code before pulling up to the window to pick up their orders.
- Several other fast food chains, including Taco Bell, McDonald’s and Burger King, are exploring mobile pickup lanes as a quicker way for customers to receive their orders without having to wait in line.
With Chick-fil-A often services over 100 cars per hour during peak times, an express lane could better streamline drive-thru operations and allow it to process even more orders. It could also help decrease Chick-fil-A’s long drive-thru times, which average about nine minutes and are the slowest times across the QSR industry, according to QSR’s 2021 drive-thru report. Testing has already revealed a decrease in wait times for customers who are ordering and paying ahead, the company said.
“We see this as a way to serve customers more effectively and give them more control over their experience,” Jonathan Lassiter, a senior integration leader on Chick-fil-A’s service and hospitality team, said in a statement. “The lengthiest part of our drive-thru ordering process is the brief wait to get your order taken. The express lane cuts down ordering and payment time significantly, granting customers access to greater speed, ease and convenience when they want it most.”
Chick-fil-A has continually adopted new ways to speed up the drive-thru. In 2021, the company added face-to-face ordering in which customers ordered from their cars with a person standing by with a tablet and a mobile POS device. It also implemented outside meal delivery, allowing staff to deliver meals to multiple cars at a time instead of one car at the window. It also increased its mobile access by rolling out online ordering through its website in 2020 and prior to the pandemic, it offered dine-in mobile ordering.
The brand is so popular among consumers that long drive-thru times haven’t deterred it from boasting high average annual sales at its restaurants. Standalone franchised units averaged nearly $8 million in sales in 2021, according to the company’s franchise disclosure document. Some operators did even better with 31% reporting sales in excess of $9 million.