Here's Why Fast Food Employees Really Ask You To Pull Forward While Waiting

As many customers know, there's nothing worse than being asked to pull forward while waiting for your food at a drive-thru. It signals to the customer that they're in for a bit of a wait. Unless you're a restaurant like McDonald's, which has designated spots to pull into, there may be some confusion on where to exactly park. However, fast food employees actually have a good reason for their request. It's all in the name of efficiency and pleasing a corporate mandate. 

You see, many fast food drive-thrus are timed on how quickly they are serving customers and getting them through the line. Many drive-thrus actually have timers that record when a car enters the drive-thru and how long it sits at the window. For instance, the ZOOM Nitro drive-thru timer gauges performance at the window and helps corporations make adjustments if a restaurant is underperforming. These timers can detect how many cars have been served and how much time was spent on each. As such, it can make for a high-pressure and stressful situation for employees trying to beat the clock.

So employees will likely move you up if you have a particularly large order that will take time to fill. This is done so they can service smaller orders behind you. Likewise, they may move you up if you're ordering a menu item from scratch that needs to be cooked fresh. Of course, it's also possible that they're trying to trick the system as well. 

Trying to game the system

If you have a small and easy order and still find yourself pulled up and waiting, it's possible that the employees at the fast food restaurant are trying to trick the system. By moving cars through the drive-thru faster, it records to the sensors that they're operating at a higher efficiency. 

On Reddit, users who claim to be current and former fast food employees discussed ways they tried to improve efficiency. One person wrote, "Asking you to drive ahead is somewhat of a way to game the system by getting you off the sensor loops and stopping the clock." Meanwhile, another commented, "We tell you to pull forward to the first window [so] we can expedite shorter orders, and we can shave our average down by having you pass over the end timer sensor by pulling forward."

It isn't the only way employees have tried to trigger the sensors at the drive-thru. In a viral TikTok, a fast food employee can be seen using a wooden stick to force the sensor to reset. Whether this actually works or not, the employee certainly seemed to think so. Of course, in the name of improving drive-thru speeds, more and more restaurants like McDonald's are creating reserved spots for orders at the drive-thru. So, being pulled up is unlikely to go away.