Has Chick-fil-A Unveiled the Drive-Thru of the Future?

Chick-fil-A is testing an express drive-thru lane to speed up mobile order pick-up. The company calls its Express Drive-Thru model a “game changer” that will streamline the experience for its nearly 50 million mobile app users, reported Forbes.

To combat above-average wait times often experienced by Chick-fil-A customers nationwide, a partially or fully dedicated express lane is now available at approximately 60 locations in America.

Although the company hasn’t disclosed how much the model has sped up mobile order pick-ups, a press release indicated express lanes are responsible for ‘significantly’ decreased wait times. Based on those results, the express model is expected to hit more locations in 2023.

“We see this as a way to serve customers more effectively and give them more control over their experience,” stated Jonathan Lassiter, a senior integration leader on Chick-fil-A’s Service and Hospitality team.

Customers who pay ahead for pick-up orders through the Chick-fil-A mobile app can bypass the traditional drive-thru lane of customers placing their orders on premises. At a Chick-fil-A location that offers express drive-thru technology, customers simply open the app to navigate to their order.

Then, a QR code can then be scanned (through an open or closed window), which notifies the location’s staff that the customer has checked in. Customers may then pull forward in a fully dedicated express drive-thru lane, or merge into the traditional drive-thru lane at locations that only offer a partially dedicated express lane. Finally, a Chick-fil-A team member will meet the customer in line with their order.

“The lengthiest part of our drive-thru ordering process is the brief wait to get your order taken. The express lane cuts down ordering and payment time significantly,” Lassiter said.

The express model typically means less contact and wait time than traditional drive-thru lanes, and has been described as a socially-distant and time-efficient elevated service process.

Express models create “a more streamlined experience for customers,” Lassiter said.

Other fast food chains, including Taco Bell and McDonald’s, are exploring mobile pickup lanes as an efficient option for facilitating drive-thru service in the future, according to Restaurant Dive.