With drive-thru wait times taking off amid labor challenges and heavy demand, KFC is trying a different strategy: Convince customers to come inside.
Specifically, the chain on Tuesday debuted its new “Quick Pick-Up” service, which provides customers with designated parking spaces and pick-up shelves inside.
The Louisville, Ky.-based chicken chain is marketing the idea as an alternative to the drive-thru. The company noted that fast-food drive-thru customers wait more than six minutes in line, according to SeeLevel HX’s annual Drive-Thru Study.
“Santa may not be able to give you the gift of time this holiday season,” Kevin Hochman, president of KFC U.S., said in a statement, “but KFC can.”
Pick-up shelves for mobile order customers have become increasingly common in the restaurant space, largely as a strategy to differentiate between those customers and traditional in-restaurant diners.
Yet drive-thru lines have grown longer since the outset of the pandemic. According to SeeLevel, the time customers wait in those lines increased 7% this year.
Fast-food chains are increasingly viewing their in-restaurant customers as a potential solution to these lines. Mobile order in particular is viewed as a growth vehicle that could speed service. On top of that, customers who order that way are more profitable in general because they are placing the order through technology rather than with a person. And then the restaurant gets the benefit of their information.
KFC estimates that Americans spend a total of 37 billion hours in line over their lifetimes, and it also notes that wait times at U.S. drive-thrus have increased by a minute since 2019.
The company has quietly been testing its Quick Pick-Up service at various locations. The company is offering customers a free large order of fries with a $5 purchase on the app through Dec. 27 as an incentive for them to order that way.
KFC has also created a holiday-focused advertising campaign targeted at “frazzled families whose sanity is saved when they realize the convenience and speed” of the service.
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