Starbucks Aims to Improve Speed of Service by Increasing Drive-Thru Lanes by 80 Percent

starbucks drive-thru

To a guest, there is no worse way to start their day than making what’s supposed to be a quick visit at a drive-thru and instead, wait on a line that feels like it lasts forever.

For Starbucks customers, that wait time is about to get much shorter. The company recently announced they will be adding a drive-thru lane to 80 percent of their new locations.

Why the sudden change? After various location shutdowns, the decision to include more drive-thrus is in an attempt to prevent their customers from making the switch to competitors.

Though this addition to the coffee-shop chain differs from the sit-down culture they have cultivated, in-the-car service and increasing the speed of service fosters more sales. An average visit to the Starbucks drive-thru has been reported to take about four and a half minutes, according to “Bloomberg.” While the brand’s direct competitor Dunkin’ Donuts’ average is about three minutes.

It all comes down to convenience, according to Jason Moser, an analyst at “Motley Fool.”

“People are looking less for the ‘let me go in there and sit down for a while’ and more of ‘let me go in there and get my coffee and go where I need to be'," said Moser.

To prove that theory, Starbucks Chief Financial Officer Scott Maw, spoke of two different Starbucks teams located in Fort Collins, Colorado.

One location is a sit-down only and the other a drive-thru. Sales for the drive-thru location average at two thirds higher than the sit-down only one.

With drive-thru service becoming more common, how to increase speed of service at these lanes becomes the biggest question. Factors like production, equipment use, and the customers’ experience all play into how smooth and quick a visit to the drive-thru can be. One issue Starbucks may come across is their vast menu. Consumers can make their drink order as complex or simple as they’d like and their barista will have to face the challenge.

Starbucks has had drive-thrus for years, but the brand is now really ramping up the focus to drive better sales.  

Read more about Starbucks' increase in drive-thrus at "Bloomberg."