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qsr drive-thru service study
October 3, 2009 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Craving some speedy, accurately prepared, clearly enunciated junk food with a typographically proper menu? QSR has released their yearly Best Drive Thru rankings, with reports for speed of service, order accuracy, speaker clarity, and menuboard appearance. Overall description of the survey, survey questions and demographics, and Methodology (via the consumerist and chicago trib)
posted by aerotive (39 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, Chick-fil-A has drive-thrus? I've never seen one outside a mall.
posted by Lazlo at 10:45 AM on October 3, 2009


What no In N Out? (as a new to california resident, I have grown to appreciate it). I guess they can't be beat on speed due to their lines, but order accuracy, speaker clarity and menu board appearance (you don't exactly have a ton of options) are still pretty damn top notch.

Now I want In n Out.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:46 AM on October 3, 2009


Chik-Fil-A is, I think, a good fast food outlet because they are privately owned and not franchises. I've never been in a dirty Chik-Fil-A, or been met with surly staff at a Chik-Fil-A. You pretty much know exactly what you're going to get when you walk into one. Franchise places, like McDonalds or Subway tend to vary widely in hygiene and quality of service. You never know what you're going to get.
posted by dortmunder at 10:51 AM on October 3, 2009


Popeye's, dead last in three out of four categories.
posted by box at 10:52 AM on October 3, 2009


Franchise places, like McDonalds or Subway tend to vary widely in hygiene and quality of service. You never know what you're going to get.

Somewhere, the standards enforcement (a/k/a quality enforcement) departments of McDonalds and Subway are slamming their heads against their desks.
posted by cavalier at 10:53 AM on October 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Poor Popeyes. I loves me some spicy chicken.

Why is it they only seem to build them in bad neighborhoods once you get above the Mason Dixon?
posted by leotrotsky at 10:55 AM on October 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


> Somewhere, the standards enforcement (a/k/a quality enforcement) departments of McDonalds and Subway are slamming their heads against their desks.

The guy who managed the Subway I used to work at (a true True Believer in the concept of The Franchise) would have wept tears of rage at the idea that any Subway could differ substantially from any other.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:01 AM on October 3, 2009 [4 favorites]



The guy who managed the Subway I used to work at (a true True Believer in the concept of The Franchise) would have wept tears of rage at the idea that any Subway could differ substantially from any other.

I have two Subway franchises equidistant from where I work, and I can tell you that there is definitely a difference. Oh dear god, there is a difference.
posted by dortmunder at 11:04 AM on October 3, 2009


This is completely worthless without pictures. It's like Addy's or Webby's without the ads or links to the websites.
posted by shownomercy at 11:14 AM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, Chick-fil-A has drive-thrus? I've never seen one outside a mall.

There are several stand-alones in my area (Northern Virginia). In the Atlanta area, where Chick-Fil-A started, they have sit-down restaurants (called Dwarf Houses) with a wider menu, including the deliciously artery-clogging Hot Brown.
posted by candyland at 11:15 AM on October 3, 2009


Hot Brown? Is that hash browns?
posted by josher71 at 11:18 AM on October 3, 2009


They clearly have not experienced the glory of the northwest embodied in Burgerville.
posted by ZaneJ. at 11:25 AM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember the awesome signs "500000 people have moved to the Pacific Northwest this year. Because of BURGERVILLE?". Maybe. Just maybe.
posted by josher71 at 11:28 AM on October 3, 2009


Oh Chik-Fil-A. I love your sammiches and loathe your politics.

And Popeye's is, hands down, the best fried chicken around. The one near me is surprisingly well-run, too. An anomaly in fried chicken franchises, where the guiding philosophy seems to be, "we really don't have to try very hard, because we know you are way too lazy to make this at home".
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:36 AM on October 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Burgerville! OMG the best!
posted by roygbv at 11:40 AM on October 3, 2009


Burger King got a 90.1% accuracy rating? I must be one unlucky bastard. From my experience over several years and several different cities, I've come to accept the fact that if I order a meal at a Burger King drive-thru there's only about a 50% chance I'll actually get what I ordered. I don't mean ordering extra onions and not getting them. That sucks, but it's forgivable. I mean ordering a bacon, egg & cheese croissanwich and getting a couple miles down the road only to unwrap a sausage biscuit. That makes me want to kill, and it's the reason why I'm the guy in front of you at the drive-thru window, pissing you off because I won't drive away until I've checked everything in the bag, and then half the time handing something back, making you have to wait even longer. Sorry about that. I know you're in a hurry but I've been burned too many times to just take what they give me and leave. Lucky for you, I'll only be there if there are no other options nearby or I am absolutely craving a Whopper.
posted by Balonious Assault at 11:41 AM on October 3, 2009


I lost faith after the first link, because there is no way in Hell Wendy's is the speediest of the fast-food franchises. They seem to wait until you've completed your order and stepped to the side before they even start slaughtering the cow.
posted by xingcat at 12:13 PM on October 3, 2009


Now I want In n Out.

You're a cruel person to mention In-n-Out on a board full of people who live outside of California. Now I want some, too, so please go ahead and mail it to Ohio.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:21 PM on October 3, 2009


I would imagine that speaker clarity would vary quite a bit from restaurant to restaurant.
posted by delmoi at 12:24 PM on October 3, 2009


The guy who managed the Subway I used to work at (a true True Believer in the concept of The Franchise) would have wept tears of rage at the idea that any Subway could differ substantially from any other.

Wow. That's one truly blindered manager. Apparent he has not taken a cross-country trip with a teenage daughter who wouldn't eat anywhere other than Subway. I'd say there is a wider variance in Subway stores than with just about any other francise. It some from the fact, I think, that they cram a Subway into any damn hole-in-the-wall possible. And truckstops.

Sad to see no love for Steak n Shake in the poll. Unless, of course, they didn't crack the top 20...
posted by Thorzdad at 12:31 PM on October 3, 2009


Dunno what Chick-Fil-A thinks they're doing with their Hot Browns, looking online it sounds like they're taking some kind of chopped chicken casserole and abusing the name.
posted by dilettante at 12:51 PM on October 3, 2009


I actually think Wendy's is... too fast. On more than one occasion, I have ordered from the drive-thru menu, turned the corner to approach the window, and the bag is already hanging from an employee's hand out the window. Food cannot be prepared that fast. I actually kind of shy away from Wendy's now, for this reason.
posted by malapropist at 12:54 PM on October 3, 2009


Interesting numbers but my own personal metric is Flavor Per Dollar. By that measure Taco Bell is clear winner amongst the listed franchises since Del Taco is unavailable in my state. Taco Cabana, unlisted, would also be near the top of the list. KFC is tasty but also amongst the most pricey so their FPD ratio is inferior.
posted by jim in austin at 12:57 PM on October 3, 2009


It's funny how much fast food varies by location. I've lived in places where the taco bell was run so poorly it was basically unusable and the hardee's was run so well it rivaled most of the low-end restaurants. I've also lived in places were the taco bell was the best run of any of the fast-food places, which makes it a serious impediment to losing weight.

The only real constant I've found is that McDonalds is never good. Even if well run, I just don't think that food can be made edible. Furthermore, pretty much any of the other fast-food burger joints has essentially all of the same and does a better job at all of them.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:17 PM on October 3, 2009


I have been burned so many times on drive-thrus that I mostly don't even bother; I park and go in 90% of the time. They should have had a category on "price accuracy"; Arby's has attempted to overcharge me multiple times.
posted by desjardins at 1:59 PM on October 3, 2009


We stopped by an Arby's while on a long drive up through Calif and I was amazed that their sandwiches were like $6 for meat I can see through.

I shouldn't be able to see through meat.
posted by jamaro at 2:26 PM on October 3, 2009


In n Out has nothing on Grab n Go.
posted by dragonsi55 at 2:33 PM on October 3, 2009


I was fascinated by the analysis in the "overall description" link until I came upon this example of journalistic linguistic abuse:

Compared to 2008 when all but seven chains had accuracy rates of 90 percent or better, this year’s study found that 12 chains hit accuracy rates of 90 percent or higher.

Which translates to Last Year: 13 over, 7 under; This year: 12 over, 8 under. USE YOUR WORDS, TRADE MAGAZINE.

That said, I am lucky (and fatter) to be living in the land of In N Out, Del Taco (imagine Taco Bell with palatable food, even the Chili Fries), Jack & Carl (those two get extra points for having decent onion rings with Carl's putting them ON the Western Bacon Burger). The only Chick-fil-A within a hundred miles is inside the Student Union at Cal Poly U., and the Whataburger in Oxnard (just off the road to L.A.) was un-franchised a few years ago. And I have long suspected that the Jack in the Box closest to me was not the Pride of the Chain, since its accuracy rate is low enough to earn a 'wait a minute, let me check my order' every time (but the 2-for-99-cents tacos are the southwest answer to the White Castle slider; not really food, but fun and cheap) and I'm not surprised Jack's at the top for Friendly Service (something about knowing the CEO has a giant plastic head). And while In N Out's quality is generally superior to everybody else in the region (but I hear 5 Guys is moving in), it would be better if the cheese and french fries actually had some flavor (I now understand why the big chains do strange things to their potatoes). And though they will NEVER admit it, a lot of their success was due to the free bumper stickers they gave out in the 70s and '80s, which were so easily altered to read "IN N OUT URGE" (the tiny bible references on their packages are probably their penance for that). This is the most I have thought about Drive-Thru food since my car's catastrophic breakdown, but I still have one BIG question: WHY NO SUBWAY DRIVE-THRUS? Do we really need to watch you assemble our 5-dollar footlongs? (At some locations, yes, but not all)
posted by wendell at 3:25 PM on October 3, 2009


wendell, the Subway nearest my office has a drive-through.

I don't ever use it, because the line moves with glacial slowness.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:06 PM on October 3, 2009


> Sad to see no love for Steak n Shake in the poll. Unless, of course, they didn't crack the top 20...

I do love Steak 'n' Shake's burgers and shakes, but if their experience is anything like mine they're probably still waiting to get their drink order taken.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:52 PM on October 3, 2009


I used to work a food company and I LOVED QSR. IT always had articles like, "Raising the Minimum Wage: Trouble Ahead". It was by managers, for managers. It was like Supervillian Monthly.
posted by GilloD at 8:13 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Interesting numbers but my own personal metric is Flavor Per Dollar. By that measure Taco Bell is clear winner amongst the listed franchises since Del Taco is unavailable in my state.

So, the FPD ratio would be high if the food has intense flavor. Even intensely bad?

I'm still partial to NM's own Blake's Lotaburger, which is freakin excellent and not at all good for your health. But to be honest you get more FPD with a pound of duck fat and a 10 lb. bag of russet potatoes than Taco Bell, although you do also need to fry up the potatoes yourself, but you'll still have a lot of duck fat left over after you've gone through the whole bag of taters.

And who doesn't like that?
posted by krinklyfig at 11:41 PM on October 3, 2009


I shouldn't be able to see through meat.

Never had good prosciutto or jamon Iberico, eh?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:31 PM on October 4, 2009


Never had good prosciutto or jamon Iberico, eh?

Wow, the Arby's are sure fancy in your town.
posted by jamaro at 7:40 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tell me about it. What the hell's jamocha?
posted by box at 7:47 PM on October 4, 2009


ugh, I ordered a Coke at a drive-thru once and got a mocha. I took a drink without looking at it. Worst taste ever when you're expecting something else.
posted by desjardins at 8:16 PM on October 4, 2009


Wow, the Arby's are sure fancy in your town.

I was referring to the asinine nature of the 'shouldn't be able to see through meat' statement.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:38 PM on October 4, 2009


*pictures DNAB with a most-dour look on his face*
And while In N Out's quality is generally superior to everybody else in the region (but I hear 5 Guys is moving in), it would be better if the cheese and french fries actually had some flavor
I love In N Out's fries. As far as fast food fries go, I think they're the best.

Now, Fat Burger, there's an incredibly bland, overrated California-based burger stand.
posted by !Jim at 9:55 PM on October 4, 2009


For my money (in a QSR), nothing will beat McDonald's fries. They're perfect. Golden, crispy on the outside and pillowy inside. Spectacular.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:31 AM on October 5, 2009


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