- Chick-fil-A is rolling out two mobile app features this spring to improve its speed of service, the company announced Wednesday. The chain has begun deploying geofencing at units nationwide and will continue through early summer.
- If customers enable location services on the app, geofencing technology will alert Chick-fil-A employees when customers are near the restaurant so workers can begin preparing orders. The app also will give users an estimate of how long their orders will take if placed for curbside, takeaway or dine-in service.
- Chick-fil-A tested the geofencing technology in 100 restaurants across the U.S. over the past year and found that average wait times were trimmed by one to two minutes. Estimated wait times at participating stores were 90% accurate, the company said.
Geofencing marks Chick-fil-A’s latest investment in operations designed to speed up fulfillment times and better compete with rival QSRs.
Last summer, the chicken chain began testing a “Drive-Thru Express” lane at 60 restaurants for customers who order via the Chick-fil-A app. When customers arrived at a restaurant participating in the pilot, they would enter the express lane and use the app to scan a QR code before collecting their order at the window.
The popular chain’s drive-thrus routinely service more than 100 cars per hour during peak dayparts, and an October InTouch Insight study found that Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru times clock in at eight minutes and 29 seconds on average. Of the 10 major U.S. QSR chains that InTouch Insight evaluated, Chick-fil-A came in last. By contrast, competitor KFC took first place in the study with average drive-thru times of five minutes and two seconds.
Geofencing has emerged as a popular tool to support restaurant employees as mobile ordering grows. In late March, McDonald’s added the feature to its app to make order preparation more efficient, following similar rollouts at Dunkin’ and Panera.
This geographic technology’s benefits extend beyond speed of service, too. Geofencing gives restaurants access to tracking data that can provide deeper insights into diner behavior, which can help companies improve personalized notifications and promotions on their apps, Stephen Mancini, senior manager of strategy, technology and transformation at CohnReznick, said in a past interview.
Chick-fil-A’s geofencing announcement follows other updates to its app, such as its recent revamp of the Chick-fil-A One loyalty program’s points scheme in March. The program’s members now exceed 50 million.