Local 6 Drive-Thru Challenge

Local 6 surveys fast food chains for speed, accuracy

Author: Steven Cooper, Problem Solver, scooper@clickorlando.com
Published On: Feb 18 2013 11:45:07 PM EST
ORLANDO, Fla. -

Remember the last time you went through the drive-thru and ordered a grilled chicken sandwich with no tomato and extra mayo, and you got home to find a crispy chicken sandwich with no mayo and extra tomato?

Of course you do.

Everyone has had that experience. And who hasn't swung into the drive-thru to find just one car ahead, only to wait the equivalent of a 10-car wait to get the food?

We can debate the nutrition factor another time. Now it's time to reveal the results of the Local 6 Drive-Thru Challenge. We reviewed Wendy's, McDonald's, and Burger King for speed and accuracy, as all three outlets serve both burgers and chicken.  We tested five locations of each chain with comparable meals from competitor to competitor, ordering the same meals at each brand. The tests were conducted during the lunch hours over a one-month period. Our results are not scientific.

Our findings matched national data released by QSR, an industry research group that has released drive-thru studies for the past 14 years.

Here are the results from last year's QSR study:

Speed

  1. Wendy's
  2. Taco Bell
  3. Bojangles'
  4. Krystal
  5. McDonald's
  6. Chick-fil-A
  7. Burger King

Accuracy

  1. Chick-fil-A
  2. Taco Bell
  3. McDonald's
  4. Wendy's
  5. Krystal
  6. Bojangles'
  7. Burger King

In the Local 6 study, Wendy's was the most accurate, followed by McDonald's and Burger King.  The times below reflect the average speeds for our 15 visits:

Wendy's had the shortest individual time at 2 minutes and 25 seconds. Burger King had the longest at 8 minutes and 7 seconds. 

Waits at all three chains had very little to do with the number of cars in line. In fact, we often got through a long line faster than a shorter one. The waits were often caused by depletion of meal items, crew changes, or poor communication.

As for the mistakes -- oh, the mistakes -- who knows? Is there any way to measure or analyze why someone would serve a kid's meal with just fries and a drink and neglect to include the burger? Can anyone explain how a Whopper Junior with no cheese became a bacon cheeseburger? Probably not. It's just a good thing we don't rely on the drive-thru for our three meals a day. 

We don't, do we?