Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Do you ever get on the internet, looking for something, and end up discovering something entirely different?

That's what just happened to me.

I was thinking about the meaning of seditionary and ended up discovering that someone actually does studies to see how fast various fast-food chains are when it comes to service at the drive-thru.

I confess I've never thought about it that much.

To my mind, speed at the drive-thru is a function of how many cars are in front of you.

Yet, fast-food specialist publication QSR actually presents a list of worst to first.

I'm delirious at some of the details. 

Apparently, the time between a customer shouting their order at the microphone and getting their food is increasing.

In 2017, the average time was 225 seconds. Yes, a mere 3 minutes and 45 seconds from ululation to satiation.

In 2018, that number has ballooned to 234.08 seconds. 

Shame on the fast-food industry.

If you want to be positive, order accuracy has improved to 89.7 percent. If you want to be less positive, the slowdown always seems to come at the ordering end, rather than the preparing the food end.

But wait, you've only come here, like a good American, for the winners and losers. 

Well, let's start with the slowest. 

It is, according to this study, McDonald's. It manages a monstrous 273.29 second per order. 

I fear some might claim this is a function of popularity. The more caustic might suggest there's a certain dysfunctional design proportion to this heinously horrible number.

Next slowest, remarkably, is Chick-fil-A at 260.85. I'll leave it to the godless to suggest that this is because the chain takes Sundays off, loses its rhythm and its fast-twitch muscles just aren't in tune.

And now to the speedier performers. 

KFC is above average at 218.95 seconds. 

The Artist Formerly Known As Dunkin' Donuts does well at 200.74 seconds.

But the clear and undisputed champion of the drive-thru is Burger King with a stupendous time of 193.31 seconds. 

Yes, it defeats its nearest rival by almost the time it takes to win the Olympic 100 meters. 

I imagine that so much of this is simplicity of menu, clarity of signage and intelligence of positioning of signage.

Burger King believes that its commitment to technology is a component.

However, like all good champions, it insists there's room to be better. Its new CEO Jose Cil, told QSR: 

As it relates to operations, since the majority of our sales in the U.S. occur in the drive thru, we continue to place emphasis on further improving our drive-thru speed of service.

What a delicious thought that soon you might be able to get your Whopper in, say, 180 seconds. 

You'll perhaps become so obsessed that you'll time it on your fine Apple Watch.

The future, though, will surely be in the grubby hands of the technologists, something Burger King insists it's leading.

It talks of, gasp, double drive-thru's. Which seems so horrifically American.

It's not alone, though, in reaching for new technology.

Some Starbucks already use video at the drive-thru, so that you can see how tired your barista is.

Oddly, it seems that machines can't yet deliver the speed and accuracy that fast-food bosses crave.

Experts believe that it's the people who staff the drive-thru who make the real difference between, say, 273 seconds and 80 seconds less.

Of course, you could just dispense with the drive-thru altogether and just park and go inside the restaurant.

I've often found that's much quicker.

It's so oppressively un-American, though, isn't it?

Published on: Feb 13, 2019