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Chick-fil-A has long had issues with its drive-thrus. From long lines to slow lines—and even being called a “public nuisance“ by its neighbors in California—the chicken chain is constantly bottlenecked with hungry customers in cars.
But the company just announced it may have a solution to these vehicular woes. Chick-fil-A is now testing new drive-thru technology that may help its lanes operate more efficiently, according to its website.
Drive-Thru Express lanes have been put to use at 60 restaurants. These lanes are dedicated to picking up orders placed ahead of time through the chain’s app, which should reduce the pressure on regular drive-thru lanes.
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At the test locations, customers can choose a Chick-fil-A location on the map in the app, select “Drive-Thru Express,” and then order. When they arrive at the location, they can simply pull up to the Express Lane, use the app to scan a QR code, and pick up their order from an employee.
“We see this as a way to serve customers more effectively and give them more control over their experience,” said Jonathan Lassiter, a senior integration leader on Chick-fil-A’s service and hospitality team 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.”
The company said it expects to roll out more Drive-Thru Express lanes in 2023, pending further testing at the current pilot stores.
While Chick-fil-A is working to speed up its drive-thru, it is no stranger to using operational upgrades in order to provide more efficient service to customers.
The company implemented face-to-face ordering and outdoor meal delivery during the pandemic, which is when it started hand-delivering meals to cars and taking orders via iPads. Prior to that, employees wrote orders down and called customers on cell phones.
In a study done by QSR Magazine, Chick-fil-A averaged 323 seconds in its drive-thru time—which is higher than the industry average among the biggest fast-food chains. However, the study pointed out that while the wait time is higher, Chick-fil-A often contends with far more customers—often six or more cars at a time than any other chain.