Are fast food chains getting slower?

The Lempert Report
November 11, 2013

So, when fast food isn't so fast anymore, does it lose it's appeal?

Is fast food slowing down? According to a USA Today account of the 2013 Drive-Thru Performance Study, McDonald’s took an average 189.5 seconds for the typical order-to-pickup process. That is nine seconds longer than the industry average, and it is the chain’s slowest time in 15 years. So, when fast food isn't so fast anymore, does it lose it's appeal? It's a question that offers a real problem for fast feeders. The typical fast food joint faces several demons anyway: the need for healthier choices and more taste varieties; the need to make what they offer profitable; and stronger competition from convenience stores, which have expanded their prepared-food options. Add in the high turnover rate of fast-food employees, and the need for training, and constant checks for order quality and accuracy, and pressures begin to squeeze operations. And let's not forget that we're heading into the holiday season. Additional holiday offerings such as the Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Latte, or the Chick-fil-A Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake, will add to the challenge of providing timely service. The Lempert Report says if fast feeders can’t reverse this slowdown trend— perhaps with smartphone orders ahead of customer arrival? —they won’t be living up to their name. They’ll also be leaving a wide-open opportunity for convenience stores to take their customers.