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This McDonald's Service Is About to Get Even Faster

Mickey D's is an overachiever, and we're all winning because of it.
McDonalds employee mask

The covert battle for the speediest fast-food drive-thru in the country kicked into high gear this year. Up to 90% of orders at some fast-food restaurants are being fulfilled through drive-thru windows amid the pandemic, so it's more important than ever to be the top dog in the game.

The list of fast-food chains expanding drive-thru locations and coming out with more efficient setups is long. Shake Shack is opening its very first drive-thru windows, while Del Taco and Wendy's recently hinted at developing drive-thru-only locations. And Burger King's new restaurant design downsizes the average location by 60% to add curbside delivery and food lockers. (Related: 9 Restaurant Chains That Closed Hundreds of Locations This Summer.)

Not to be outdone on its home turf, McDonald's has been working all year on improving the speed of its drive-thru. The chain was able to successfully shave 30 seconds off its average drive-thru service time by ridding its menu of extra baggage like salads, chicken tenders, and the all-day breakfast.

And it looks like the burger slinger isn't stopping there. In an investor update this week, McDonald's revealed it's testing express lines for customers who place digital orders ahead of time, as well as dedicated pick-up spots and automated ordering—basically, its own version of a contactless paradise. Besides trying to improve customer service, the fast-food chain is also hoping that a better drive-thru experience will bring back customers who may have been lost to faster competitors.

A recent study by SeeLevel HX found that Burger King, KFC, and Taco Bell all have shorter drive-thru times than McDonald's, where it currently takes about 349 seconds to get your food from arrival to pick-up. That adds up to more than five long, hunger-amplifying minutes!

But McDonald's is looking to win customers over with substance in addition to speed. The Golden Arches is adding a brand new Crispy Chicken Sandwich to menus next year, as well as its very own plant-based burger (aptly named McPlant). The chain is also holding up pretty well in terms of breakfast traffic. Sales of the most important meal of the day were up in September and October, according to Q3 results. Take that, Wendy's!

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Mura Dominko
Mura Dominko is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!. Read more
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