Long Drive-Thru Lines Are Ruining Chick-Fil-A

How long are you willing to wait for a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich? That's a question many customers weigh before entering the drive-thru line, according to Business Insider. Drive-thru sales account for a large portion of the restaurant's overall profits, which is typical of chain restaurants that have drive-thru service. Starbucks, for example, garners 50% of its overall earnings from the drive-thru.

The NPD Group found that drive-thru traffic increased by 26% between April and June of 2020, according to Restaurant Dive. That's largely because dining rooms were forced to close during the pandemic. But, even as dining rooms began to open up in July, traffic in drive-thru lanes rose 13%, sustaining the demand for the service. The NPD Group also found the number of drive-thru orders in February 2022 was 20% higher than it was two years earlier.

The increasing reliance on restaurant drive-thrus has no doubt placed a strain on Chick-fil-A. Its lengthy drive-thru wait times are lengthy to the detriment of the establishment, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy said in 2021. He pointed out that the restaurant loses an estimated 30% of its drive-thru customers because they see the long line and choose to skip it (via the Atlanta Business Chronicle).

Chick-fil-A aims for drive-thru efficiency

As we all know, the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one. Some Reddit users have said some of the longest Chick-fil-A drive-thru lines they've ever seen stretched as long as 50 cars in one location. In another case, a line reportedly lasted at least 6 hours. The company has officially acknowledged that the waits are truly a challenge for the company as a whole, according to Business Insider. Luckily the popular chicken joint has a few ideas about how to address the issue and speed operations along in the drive-thru lane.

First off, some locations installed double drive-thru lanes and implemented new systems where staff stood outdoors and took orders from cars as they drove up. Chick-fil-A stated on its website that it also began test-driving Drive-Thru Express lanes for customers who just need to retrieve an order that they placed online or through the app. Initial results suggest that this allows traffic in the other lanes to flow without getting as bogged down.