Special Report | October 2017 | By Sam Oches

The Keys to Chick-fil-A's Drive-Thru Success

When it comes to delivering food with a smile, the chicken brand remains in a class of its own.
Chick-fil-A's “Face-to-face ordering” technique helps with both speed and accuracy in the drive thru. Chick-fil-A
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Vitals>>

Speed of Service: 251.04 seconds

Order Accuracy: 93.4%

What are your tips for improving speed of service at Chick-fil-A?

When it comes to speed of service, we think it’s important to leverage our greatest asset: our Chick-fil-A team members who are interacting with guests in the drive-thru line. With our people at the forefront, we then use innovation and technology to create a more convenient experience for our guests. ED

At many restaurants, our employees use tablets to take orders in the drive thru. This technology allows team members to greet customers at their car windows, take their order, and relay it to the kitchen, all while maintaining one-on-one service. As the order-taker walks the line, another team member comes to the customer’s car to take payment, allowing cars to move through twice as fast as they do at a traditional speaker-box drive thru. At Chick-fil-A we call this system “face-to-face ordering.” KC

What are your tips for improving order accuracy at Chick-fil-A?

We know it’s important that guests get their food quickly, but also that their order is accurate. Chick-fil-A employees take detailed descriptions of cars while they’re placing orders. This way, the kitchen knows what food orders to make first, and the cashier knows who to get payment from. Additionally, when restaurants have two drive-thru lanes, the descriptions of cars help team members know exactly who should receive what food order and at which window, regardless of the order in which cars merge. KC

Employee staffing and training are also critical to drive-thru success. A best practice in our drive thrus is having dedicated teams that are consistent and work well together. They understand how important it is for our guests to get what they want quickly, and they continue to raise the bar themselves to keep improving the customer experience. ED

Besides speed and accuracy, what’s the most critical factor to Chick-fil-A drive-thru success?

Speed and accuracy are a big focus in the drive thru, but our people are really our secret recipe. We know it’s important to our guests that our team members can be nice and friendly in the drive thru while also being quick and accurate. Eye contact, smiling, and good hospitality can go a long way in the drive thru. ED

What’s one innovation that you think is going to change the future of drive thru?

Technology is changing the way people eat out. For example, last year, Chick-fil-A launched its new mobile app, Chick-fil-A One, to enhance the way guests experience Chick-fil-A via their mobile devices. While customers can’t yet pick up their mobile order in the drive thru, they can order a customized meal, pay in advance, and pick up their food inside the restaurant, skipping the line.

We are continuing to innovate new ways to streamline our drive-thru processes and maximize technology, but we will always lead with our people, because they are our most important resource. vOffering a personal experience is a trademark of Chick-fil-A. KC

—Elizabeth Dixon / manager of hospitality
—Khalilah Cooper / senior manager of service innovation and design