The Argument For Removing Drive-Thru Time Averages From Performance

, , , , , , | Right | January 10, 2021

At my fast food restaurant, the drive-thru is timed, and these times reflect on manager and restaurant performance, so we’re pushed to go as fast as possible. Our times are averaged, and our goal is 1:15 at the speaker, 1:30 in line, and 1:15 at the window when we’re not in rush times.

This occurs an hour or so after the dinner rush. I’ve taken the customer’s order: two relatively cheap combo boxes with several modifications, some of which add to the price. One of these modifications is to add two freezes instead of drinks, adding $0.80 per combo. The line is long, so by the time they get to the window, their drinks are done and their food is nearly so.

They hand me their debit card, and I put it in the chip reader and wait a bit. The point of sale system says, ‘Insufficient funds,’ and requests another form of payment for the remaining $1.51. I ask the customer, and they ask for a fountain drink instead of one of their freezes. By now, they’ve received their food, and we’re deep into the two-minute mark at the window, but I do my best to smile, pour the drink, and rerun the card, foolishly assuming that they’ll pay the difference now that I’ve lowered it.

Shockingly, they still only wanted to pay with the card. Their bud next to them is already drinking out of their other freeze, so I can’t swap that one out for a fountain drink; they’re eating their food, so I can’t swap it out, either. My partner’s getting annoyed; we’re well into four minutes and the customers are rifling around for loose change.

After we reach five and a half minutes, I give up. Someone has given me their change as a tip, $2.92. It is the largest tip I’ve ever gotten from a customer, and I was proud of earning it. I wave the car on, put 92 cents in the register, and try very hard not to scream as I look out the window to see the line of cars wrapping around the building. I almost cry. 

I can comprehend not having a ton of cash, but if you’re unable to pay for your food, don’t order extra expensive modifications! I’m disappointed that I had to give up part of my tip, but it just wasn’t practical to keep the customer there anymore, and my managers were getting more and more irked at the holdup. Oh, and our averages were ruined for the next two hours of my shift. I wish I could say this was the only irritating customer that night, but that would be lying.

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