The 20th annual QSR Drive-Thru Study showed that the overall speed of service at 10 quick-service chains increased by nearly 30 seconds this year compared to 2019. The chaos of the pandemic, where demand was high for off-premise ordering, likely contributed to the slowdown.
But three quick-service chains were faster this year including McDonald’s. The chain ranked No. 6 in the survey with a total time of 349.3 seconds in 2020, down from 378.2 seconds last year.
SeeLevel HX, the firm that conducted the well-known industry survey, said the brand’s investment in digital menu boards and its streamlined menu contributed to the chain’s faster speed.
To date, the Chicago-based chain has installed Dynamic Yield menu boards in more than 11,000 of its nearly 14,000 U.S. restaurants, the company told Nation’s Restaurant News.
The boards help streamline the ordering process through automated upselling. McDonald's said the digital boards are also contributing to average check growth at the chain.
But when it comes to speed, the big difference in 2020 was the brand’s limited menu. McDonald's reduced its late-night menu and removed All-Day Breakfast at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
McDonald’s concurred with the report, telling NRN that drive-thru times have improved across major markets.
“We saw improved customer satisfaction scores, and better speed of service and order accuracy in many major markets,” McDonald’s USA told NRN in response to the survey.
All-Day Breakfast has yet to return even though dining room restrictions have been lifted in various states across the U.S.
When asked about the breakfast anytime platform returning, McDonald’s said: “We removed All Day Breakfast from the menu to simplify operations in our kitchens, which we saw provided better speed of service and order accuracy. Any final decision will be made in partnership with our franchisees, based on consumer demand, and designed to drive the business while minimizing operational disruptions.”
Some McDonald’s operators have supported keeping the light menu because it allows them to serve customers faster. In June, McDonald’s said wait times at the drive thru have been reduced by 25 seconds.
CEO Chris Kempczinski said over the summer that the "limited menu served a purpose for a period of time, but we have to be also attentive to what the customers are looking for when they come to a McDonald's and I think it's going to vary market by market."
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