Methodology for The 2016 QSR Drive-Thru Study

SeeLevelhxData for the 2016 QSR Drive-Thru Study was collected and tabulated by SeeLevel HX. The study included 15 chains and data from 1,948 visits, with the following break-down of visits by chain: Arby’s (173), Burger King (168), Carl’s Jr. (90), Chick-fil-A (165), Dunkin’ Donuts (175), Hardee’s (86), KFC (166), McDonald’s (167), Panera Bread (69), PDQ (39), Pollo Tropical (70), Starbucks (168), Taco Bell (169), Taco Cabana (75), and Wendy’s (168). All data was collected between April 26 and August 1, 2016.

Daypart analysis was based on the time of day of the visit—breakfast (5–9 a.m.), mid morning (9–11:30 a.m.), lunch (11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.), late afternoon (1:30–4 p.m.), and dinner (4–7 p.m.). The distribution of visits mirrored revenue by daypart.

Upon each visit, a trained data collection specialist surveyed the drive-thru lane and then entered the line as any other customer. Each order placed by our researchers consisted of one main item, one side item, and one beverage. A minor special request was also made with each order, such as beverage with no ice. Although two different speed-of-service times were recorded for each visit (one for the researchers’ order/experience and another from a randomly selected vehicle), all tables within this feature are related to the researchers’ own vehicle and experience only, as this was the controlled order. Service time was defined as the time from stopping at the order station to receipt of all items (including change). Additional data collected by each researcher included but was not limited to: order accuracy, drive-thru and exterior appearance, speaker clarity, and customer service. All purchases were made using cash so as not to influence timing.


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