Data for the 2018 QSR Drive-Thru Study was collected and tabulated by SeeLevel HX. The study included 10 chains and data from 1,507 visits, with the following break-down of visits by chain: Arby’s (165), Burger King (165), Carl’s Jr. (81), Chick-fil-A (185), Dunkin’ Donuts (164), Hardee’s (87), KFC (163), McDonald’s (168), Taco Bell (164), and Wendy’s (165). Visits were conducted across the country, across all regions and dayparts. No restaurant location was visited more than once. All data was collected between June 1 and July 30, 2018.
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 data collection researcher 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.