Chick-fil-A Joins in on Efficiency-Boosting Mobile Order Drive-Thru Lane Trend

Chick-fil-A drive thru

As restaurants look to boost the efficiency of their drive-thru lanes with digital technologies, Chick-fil-A has taken inspiration from competitors with its new test of a drive-thru lane dedicated to mobile order pickup.

The brand announced this new express lane Wednesday (June 22), noting that it is live at about 60 locations, with more to come next year depending on how these initial tests go.

“We see this as a way to serve customers more effectively and give them more control over their experience,” Jonathan Lassiter, a senior integration leader on Chick-fil-A’s service and hospitality team, said in a statement. “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, granting customers access to greater speed, ease and convenience when they want it most.”

The Context

The news comes as many restaurant brands look to boost the efficiency of their drive-thrus. Take, for instance, major quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain Taco Bell, which recently opened its “Defy” concept, a two-story model with the kitchen on the second level above the four-lane drive-thru, which sends orders down to customers via a vertical lift (a small food elevator).

“We believe what the new drive-thru will become in the future … is a technology-reliant operating system that merges both the order and the pickup point into one, which creates less waits for consumers, creates an opportunity to go in places where we didn’t think we could get into and … creates the potential for the perfect drive-thru experience,” Taco Bell Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Grams told PYMNTS in an interview.

Read more: Taco Bell COO Sheds Light on Drive-Thrus Becoming Drive Unders

Similarly, Chipotle has been leveraging its mobile drive-thru lanes to boost efficiency in its off-premise business.

“More than 80% of new restaurants [will feature a] Chipotlane,” Chipotle CEO and Chairman Brain Niccol told analysts on a call in April discussing the company’s first-quarter 2022 earnings results. “Our digital order drive-thru pickup lane continues to be a favorite among guests, giving customers more easy ways to access Chipotle.”

Related news: Chipotle Leans on Drive-Thru to Boost Efficiency in Difficult Labor Market

By the Numbers

Research from the May/June edition of PYMNTS’ and Paytronix’s Digital Divide series, The Digital Divide: Technology, The Metaverse And The Future Of Dining Out, reveals that off-premise customers are looking for technology to boost the efficiency of the restaurant experience. In fact, the study, which drew from an April survey of nearly 2,500 U.S. adults who regularly purchase food from restaurants, noted that 58% of grab-and-go consumers report believing that more technology inside restaurants leads to better customer service.

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Additionally, research from the 2022 Restaurant Friction Index, also a PYMNTS and Paytronix collaboration, found that 35% of diners said they would be more inclined to purchase from restaurants that offer drive-thru pickup.

Read more: New Data Shows Digital Loyalty Programs Are Key Differentiator for Top-Performing Restaurants