Wendy’s drive-thru has gotten a lot worse, new study shows

Few things in life are more convenient than having dinner without leaving the car. Drive-thru windows have become an integral part of the rapidly growing fast-food industry and fast-food restaurants have become our preferred way of transacting.

But expecting exorbitant speed and convenience from a drive-thru can often lead to frustration when they don’t deliver in those departments. And one major burger chain, in particular, has been disappointing customers over the past year.

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New research shows Wendy’s, America’s second-largest burger chain, is seriously falling behind its drive-thru competitors in several important ways.

According to InTouch Insight’s annual drive-thru study, Wendy’s drive-thru service has declined in quality over the past year. The chain had the lowest order accuracy and customer satisfaction scores among many brands tested by mystery shoppers, including McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, KFC, Dunkin’, Hardy’s, Arby’s, Carls Jr., and Burger King. During June and July, these silent judges visited more than 1,500 fast-food drive-throughs to measure everything from service speed to staff friendliness.

Of all those trips, the Wendy’s fared the worst when it came to order accuracy, completing only 79% of drive-thru orders correctly. Meanwhile, McDonald’s and Arby’s were the most accurate (89% of orders completed correctly). With regards to customer satisfaction, Wendy’s earned a score of 82%. It’s a far cry from the top-ranked Chick-fil-A and Carles Jr. with 95% customer satisfaction rates.

Furthermore, Evercore ISI analyst David Palmer said in a research note that Wendy’s had the most dramatic drop in drive-thru speeds of any brand studied. Wendy’s average drive-thru service time in 2022 is 4 minutes 35 seconds — a significant 20% increase compared to wait times in 2019.

In comparison, most other chains were able to maintain their normal wait times far more efficiently. Chick-fil-A’s service times were only 1% slower in 2022, with sales per restaurant increasing by an astonishing 27% since 2019.

Additionally, the beloved chicken chain took the top spot for speed of service, friendliest staff, and tied with Taco Bell for best food quality.

john enderer

John Anderer is a writer who specializes in science, health and lifestyle topics. John. read more about

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