Cars enter Chick-fil-A drive-thru

We’ve all been there. A craving for hot, buttery chicken hits you suddenly while you’re out driving, maybe along with the ravenous hunger for some crispy waffle fries. It’s time to hit the Chick-fil-A drive-thru … along with seemingly everyone else in town. More often than not, you’ll find yourself in a long line of cars with a bunch of hungry chicken lovers whenever you hit up the popular fast food chain. Yet, somehow, that line never seems to take very long to get through. After only a short time, you’ve got that delicious chicken sandwich right there in your hands, no matter how daunting the drive-thru looked when you first pulled up.

That’s all thanks to the Chick-fil-A drive-thru workers who work extremely hard and very quickly to make that kind of magic happen. They do it every day, no matter how busy things get, how difficult the customers are, or how many extra sauce packets you forget to add to your order. So, exactly how do they do it? How do they stand the pressure? And how do they keep a smile on their face the whole time? We’ve taken to the internet to see what employees themselves have to say about the job. Here’s a look at what it’s really like to work in the Chick-fil-A drive-thru.

Working the Chick-fil-A drive-thru isn’t exactly relaxing

Long line of cars at Chick-fil-A drive-thru

Chick-fil-A has more than 2,400 locations, with each one averaging hundreds of customers a day (via Chick-fil-A). According to CNBC, some of the busiest locations can even see thousands of hungry diners on their busiest days. Furthermore, according to Chick-fil-A, most of its restaurants serve well over 100 cars an hour in the drive-thru during peak times. So you can imagine that working that line is no easy task. Working at Chick-fil-A is said to be exhausting. Some say the drive-thru is especially challenging, though other employees maintain that it all depends on an individual’s personality and energy reserves (via Reddit).

From directing a line of traffic that may extend around the block, to deciphering complicated orders, dealing with rude customers, and pumping out as many orders as possible, all while remembering to say "my pleasure", the job undoubtedly takes a toll. So, make sure to be extra nice next time you’re in the drive-thru line and say "please" and "thank you". It’ll make your mama proud. Remember that, as one Chick-fil-A employee confessed on Reddit, when they were assigned to work the drive-thru, "I had to use all my mental capacity to get through the day."

Some customers just can’t communicate in the Chick-fil-A drive-thru

Employees hand out food at Chick-fil-A drive-thru

Working any fast food drive-thru comes with the grueling task of taking order after order from hungry customers who may be distracted, in a hurry, or otherwise simply bad at communicating just what it is that they want. The same is true at Chick-fil-A, whether the employees are taking orders over the speaker or on outside duty, where they must walk up to cars and take orders face-to-face.

Just imagine the frustration of this scenario, laid out by an employee on Reddit. You ask "Can I have a name for your order?" and get the response, "yeah I’ll get a number 2." Or how about this from the same worker, who complains that "the person driving the vehicle doesn’t relay what the other people are saying and so I have to crane down to hear after being stiff from being in the cold for hours." Mask wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic has only complicated matters of communication, according to a worker posting on Quora. At least Chick-fil-A’s still successful during the pandemic.

At Chick-fil-A, customer service and a caring attitude reign above all, says Business Insider, but that doesn’t mean it always comes easy. As one employee put it on Quora, "we’ve got that 5.0 customer service so I respect the guest because I care. That doesn’t mean my blood isn’t boiling from the inside."

Other customers don’t know how to navigate the Chick-fil-A drive-thru lanes

Enter sign at Chick-fil-A drive-thru

The speed of Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru lanes is sometimes a force to behold. According to Chick-fil-A, many locations have multiple lanes for cars to queue in as they make their way through the line, all to ensure people get their chicken as quickly as possible. That said, working at the Chick-fil-A drive-thru means dealing with the customers who seemingly can’t handle the crowd, don’t know any drive-thru hacks, and, especially don’t know how to navigate the traffic.

For example, Chick-fil-A employees on Reddit dread having a two-lane system where, despite one lane being empty, cars continue to stack up in the other lane. When customers realize they’ve made this mistake, some start driving backward through in the drive-thru in order to change lanes. Yikes! Even worse, according to one worker, is "when someone cuts the entire line in the drive-thru and you’re forced to awkwardly take their order before people who actually waited." That’s just frustrating for everyone. Some Chick-fil-A drive-thrus can become such a mess that there are actually employees whose entire shifts are dedicated to directing drive-thru traffic (via Quora).

Some customers don’t know Chick-fil-A drive-thru etiquette

Cars waiting at Chick-fil-A drive-thru

There’s a good chance anytime you hit up the Chick-fil-A drive-thru that you’re going to find yourself in a line full of cars. Most of the time, that line moves pretty quickly, something on which Chick-fil-A prides itself. But backups do happen. As drive-thru workers hustle to get everyone moving along as quickly as possible, sometimes it’s the customers themselves that are responsible for holding things up. Their antics go way beyond just taking forever to decide on an order.

For one, everyone seemingly has a phone glued to their hand these days and some aren’t afraid to use it in the drive-thru lane despite phone usage being a drive-thru faux pas. Chick-fil-A workers mentioned serious frustration when trying to communicate with customers in the drive-thru who are engrossed in their phone instead of paying attention to the person taking their order (via Spoon University). It’s no fun when everyone has to repeat themselves a bunch, and even worse when there’s an issue with the order, all of which holds up the line.

Another potential slow down? Not having your payment method ready to go. As one Chick-fil-A worker put it, it’s super annoying "when people take forever to get payment ready. Like ‘oh let me just grab my card. It’s in the back filed under section Z of my third wallet in my 8th purse’" (via Reddit).

Weathering the elements is part of the job at the Chick-fil-A drive-thru

Chick-fil-A drive-thru workers wearing rain gear

Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru mastery comes down to its face-to-face ordering system, often referred to by Chick-fil-A employees as the iPOS (via Reddit). This system requires employees to be outside, walking up to cars to take orders and payments. It also means having to brave the elements, depending on the location and time of year. Hungry customers flock to Chick-fil-A year-round, come rain or shine or even snow, meaning that drive-thru workers have to deal with all kinds of weather conditions.

Some say the summer heat is the worst. As one Chick-fil-A worker confessed, "working the drive-thru in July and August about made me melt" (via Reddit). While there’s no doubt that hotter locations mean some seriously hot and sweaty shifts for workers, there are at least some restaurants that work hard to provide coverings, fans, misters, water, and more to keep their employees as safe and comfortable as possible during harsh weather (via Reddit). But this isn’t the case everywhere, as some workers discussing the topic on Reddit complained about not getting enough breaks during the hot shifts, or even not being able to get enough water in order to stay hydrated.

The Chick-fil-A drive-thru runs like a well-oiled machine

Chick-fil-A workers deliver orders to cars

It’s no secret that Chick-fil-A leads the drive-thru game. According to QSR Magazine, Chick-fil-A is a consistent winner of its industry-wide Drive-Thru Performance Study, frequently taking the top spot for order accuracy and customer service. However, even the restaurant’s proponents must admit that the chain rarely scores well on drive-thru speed.

Yet, a little wait is worth it for the service and food to many customers. There’s a method to this successful madness. Each worker has a particular duty to fill, starting with the employees who walk up to your car, take your order, and send it to the kitchen via a tablet computer. Next, an employee with a card reader confirms orders and takes payments. Finally, you drive up to the window where another worker hands you your completed order (via Reddit).

As a customer, this process means hot, fresh, delicious chicken in your hands in a matter of minutes, no matter how winding the line to the window is. Behind the scenes, this efficient and enjoyable experience is the result of a very specific, diversified system that the employees must learn to perfect. There’s a lot of technology involved, as well as a team effort to keep track of all the orders, keep traffic flowing, and keep up with the leapfrogging between lanes, according to advice passed along between Chick-fil-A drive-thru workers on Reddit.

Speed is everything at the Chick-fil-A drive-thru

Long line of cars at Chick-fil-A drive-thru

Chick-fil-A employees know that working for the fast food giant means working fast. That’s especially true in the drive-thru. The entire reason for Chick-fil-A’s elaborate drive-thru system is to get your food to you as fast as possible. And with the face-to-face ordering process, Chick-fil-A is able to pump out an insane amount of orders during the peak lunch and dinner rush hours.

One former Chick-fil-A employee on Reddit said that his store was able to serve more than 160 cars on average during the peak hours of 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. But that’s nothing. Another Redditor claims their Chick-fil-A location serves over 220 cars an hour on average during the lunch rush, with their record being 254 cars. That’s wildly impressive, and yet, still so far away from the apparent all-time Chick-fil-A drive-thru record. That goes to a restaurant in Lake Boone, North Carolina, reports North State Journal, which managed to serve a jaw-dropping 474 cars in just one hour. Perhaps Chick-fil-A is moving up in the world of drive-thru speed, after all.

Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru depends on communication

Chick-fil-A workers deliver orders to cars

If you’re wondering how Chick-fil-A manages to operate as quickly and efficiently as it does, many workers, like those on Reddit, will tell you it all comes down to communication. When you’ve got hundreds of cars zooming through multiple drive-thru lanes, it’s no simple task to make sure food comes out for cars in the right order. Team members outside taking orders, those in the kitchen putting together bags of food, and the ones making the final handoff, all have to be communicating constantly or things can quickly go from an organized frenzy to just plain chaos.

That’s not always easy, especially with a big team. Some Chick-fil-A locations can have an entire team just working in the drive-thru operation (via Reddit). So, next time you see the drive-three workers on headsets and walkie-talkies like a secret operative, rest assured they are there to serve one mission — making sure you get your chicken.

The madness of Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru is sometimes fun

Masked Chick-fil-A workers smiling at drive-thru window

Is working at the Chick-fil-A drive-thru and fast-paced, complicated, and often grueling job? By all accounts, yes. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some fun to be had by some workers who are making the best of it. Some of them admit "the main way that we keep from going crazy is that we work hard and we play hard. We’re also always joking around and having a good time too" (via Tastemade).

Another Chick-fil-A employee says they and their coworkers like to "blast music" in the drive-thru lanes to keep spirits high and "mess around once it gets close to closing time," adding that once they even remade the Full House opening credits for a joke video (via Reddit). And many employees insist the camaraderie among team members is what makes the job worth it. One employee went so far as to say that her coworkers "truly are some of my best friends and they have been with me through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows of my life" (via Reddit).

There’s a chance you might make someone’s day

Long line of cars at Chick-fil-A drive-thru

When you’re a Chick-fil-A employee working the drive-thru, you never know what you’re going to get. With hundreds of cars a day on average passing through to alleviate their hunger, you’re likely to witness the good, the bad, and the ugly of humanity. But there’s also the chance that you might make someone’s day, as has happened many times in the Chick-fil-A drive-thru lane.

One Chick-fil-A employee from North Carolina went viral, even landing a spotlight from the TODAY show, for his kind and cheerful attitude in the drive-thru, after a customer shared a clip on Facebook of him doling out compliments, fist bumps, and positivity while taking orders. The woman who filmed the video told TODAY that "hundreds of people have commented that they have had the same exact experience with Jeremiah," adding that "he’s left his mark on so many."

In another instance of Chick-fil-A cheer, a drive-thru worker in Indianapolis made the local FOX59 news for showing off his dance moves while directing traffic in the drive-thru line, leaving customers smiling, laughing, or dancing right along with him in their cars. And one Chick-fil-A worker in Georgia is now called a hero after he helped save a child from choking while in the drive-thru lane (via CNN).