Is there a standard or goal in our industry for time it should take from the time a customer orders to the time they get their drink? Both for walk in and drive thru. i have heard a bit of discussion and i know there are many variables but i want to have at least a goal to aim for.
I can't comment on drive thru... don't use it, don't have it-- but I would guess they are less patient than walk-in folk.
on average, I'd agree with Mike... but I remember reading a report that said people were happy to wait (on average) seven minutes for a drink. Based on my experience, I think that's probably an honest number.
I think there are too many factors to give a cut and dry answer.
I think it's necessary to move at an efficient pace, but not a hurried pace. There's a difference between serving a customer promptly and having them see you as just a drink making device. Customers who want FAST drinks are probably going to places where that's their thing.
Also, it depends on the size of the line and if it's to stay or to go. People who are staying aren't expecting you to rush their drink out to them if there is a line of people getting things to go. Ideally in depends who is in line first, but usually you would try to get the to go people taken care of quickly --- within reason. If you are busy, it will be easy to see and there will be an expectation that the wait will be a little longer.
In the end, it's really what you deliver... provided you're not just being slow and lazy. The only time you should be concerned is when they don't wait.
"People" may be willing to wait 7 minutes but I'd fire any barista of mine who couldn't deliver our normal top quality espresso beverages at a much faster pace. That's less than nine beverages per hour pace. Some over the top complicated six or eight dollar signature beverage at that pace sure, but not the usual latte or mocha or straight shot or macchiato etc. Damn well better be able to deliver those at the highest quality level averaging 1:30 or bye-bye from our Houses. Seriously. Think barista competition level quality AND speed, that's a top flight professional serious barista day in and day out. Piece of cake, not kidding around. Hell no I ain't talkin' drive through 52 syrup flavors who gives a rip about the actual espresso except for caffeine, but rather mostly porcelain baby for a goodly percentage of extreme palate clientele. Great coffee can be culinary and efficiently expediently produced!
Not saying you always need to produce at that clip, but when there's a line and the pressure's on you'd best be able to deliver. Hell yes quality counts, but at 7 bev per minute max pace when it counts you'll go broke on payroll (or at best never make a profit) because basically you'd need 3 or 4 baristas on duty to do what one should be able to do. Indeed there's a time and place for leisurely production while chatting with the customer, and even when there's a line chatting with customers is appropriate and even essential, but when slammed more limited. We speed test making three espresso based beverages, do them in under 5 minutes and at quality, or you don't work our bars plain and simple. It's really not that difficult if you know what you're doing.
10 people in line, 7 minutes per beverage, 10th person in line served 70 minutes later? I don't think so by any stretch of the imagination. Which I realize (now) isn't what said. Waiting seven minutes, well if solo with 10 people in line even at 1:30 per bev the 10th person WOULD have to wait 15 minutes which not too many would do so yeah, better be able to deliver quality at speed!
I'd go back and revise/delete parts of my diatribe but hey, have coffee to bag:)
Like others, I don't have any input about drive thru's. I know that in a cafe setting, it takes me about 20 seconds to prepare the pitcher and cup for a drink, 25 seconds to prepare an espresso and about 25 more to pull it. Steaming takes between 15 & 30 seconds which I do while pulling the shot. Wiping & purging the steam wand, decanting the espresso, stirring the espresso and syrup if applicable, rinsing the demi, conditioning the milk and pouring the drink takes another 30 seconds. That's around 1:20 if you merge the things that are done simultaneously. This is just at an efficient pace, which I do not consider hurried. If there's a line, some of these things could be sped up a bit. I would say that depending on the drink, times could vary from 1 min. to 4 minutes in a complicated blended-espresso type drink.
As others mentioned, those times stack up though. If it takes 30 seconds to ring someone up, and their drink takes 1 min. 30 sec., 5 drinks down the line will result in a 5 minute wait time. The only real solution here is efficient systems and proficient employees with adequate labor coverage. For instance, a floating employee (not on bar or register) can cut these times significantly by prepping drinks. Add more stations to this equation (blended, bagles, sandwiches, by-the-cup brewing methods, etc.) and you will need more coverage to make it happen.
Didn't read that everyone should wait, but people will wait. Perhaps it's total time... line + drink.
obviously everyone shouldn't have a long wait, in fact most people shouldn't have a long wait. Getting 20-30 people through the door in an hour is a different time flow than 20 people who come in the door in a twenty minute span.
What about time in line? What's better 10 minutes in line and one minute drink time, or five minutes in line and a two minute drink time? What about fifteen minutes in line and 45 second drink time? Too many factors.
Simply put, if you need to put a clock to it, you're probably taking too long.
There are many ways to get more advanced, efficient, and experienced as a barista and improve speed/quality. Milk sharing (steaming large pitchers, splitting for multiple drinks) can be a little difficult to do really well, but if practiced, can be really great and efficient. Also getting a routine: every drink order has a swing of what you do first, second, third, etc so you get used to the pace of it and don't have to think about the prep as much.
Unfortunately, I have seen too many baristas panic when they get a huge line and huge ticket, and the milk isn't as good, shots are a little off, bar gets very messy, they can't focus. Just makes it worse. If you can see the huge line, take a deep breath, get in your swing, then you can actually have a lot of fun making great drinks for happy customers.
Also WORK CUSTOMER SERVICE. Even if they are waiting at the bar looking antsy, just a "Hey, how are you? Thanks for waiting, your drink is coming right up" with a smile and good attitude has made so many impatient customers much more tolerant and understanding. I know people can be a little grumpy before they get their coffee (trust me, I'm the same) but if they see you working hard, having a good attitude, and caring, they seem to be more okay with a little wait.
I think it would be important to distinguish between time it takes for a barista to make and serve a drink, and how long someone should be waiting for a drink. If there is no line and no other drinks to be made, then prep time and wait time are the same, but if there is a line then that must be taken into consideration.
In my opinion, I think a 5-7 minute wait for a customer from the time they order to the time they get their drink is a reasonable goal to strive for assuming it is busy. Even if it is very busy I think the goal of 5-7min should be the same, but to increase production you would obviously need to increase the number of baristas. One can only go so fast :) At the shop I work at there are times where we get slammed by summertime tourists and such, and a 10+ minute wait for a drink will happen, but when you get nearly 5 orders of drink per minute it gets tough to keep up, even with two baristas working two machines! And we even use Swift grinders (which are not my favorite but they are efficient) which speeds up the process a bit.
As far as time in line, I think limiting the wait to 5-10min max even during rushes would be ideal. Of course, like everything else, it depends on many things...
My wife used to work with the customer experience team at a large bank. Up until recently, one of her ongoing projects was measuring customer wait time at banking centers around the country against their internal goals. Within their group it was understood that customer satisfaction wasn't negatively impacted until wait time began to exceed 5 minutes. There are a couple of caveats...
In their world "wait time" means from the time a customer walks in the door until they are able to begin their transaction. Once they are in process, the wait time is over. I'm not sure exactly how that translates in the world where there are often two waits: waiting to place an order and waiting to pick up a drink.
That assumption assumes normal operations in front of the waiting customer. A 5 minute wait while an adequately staffed team takes care of a queue of customers is far different than an understaffed team or employees apparently goofing off. Customer perception is everything.
Her quote, after reading the beginnings of this post over my shoulder, was "its all about managing customer expectations." The 5 minute wait time bogey is a nice clean number, helpful for planning and modeling... but only covers part of the story.
Internally, we try hard to minimize wait time before placing an order. I'm disappointed if a customer has to wait more than 5 minutes from the time they walk through the door until the time they leave. Working backwards, I ought to be able to execute a "typical" drink in under 1.5 minutes. The order and pay transaction should take that amount of time or less. This means that in the cashier+barista model a continuous line of single drinks will stack up a little bit in front of the barista. Multiples will stack up faster. Thinking about it, for us 5 minutes prior to placing their order and another couple of minutes before receiving their drink seems to be typical "very busy" upper-end wait time.
Remember though, if a customer walks in to a full store, there will be an expectation that they will wait in line for a few minutes. You don't walk into a packed restaurant and expect to get a table immediately. The same goes while waiting on their drink... if the barista has a rail full of tickets and everyone seems to be working hard to get things done, they'll be alot more forgiving of a 5 minute wait than if someone is kinda standing around or not apparently working to get them through. Manage expectations and visibly work hard to get them taken care of.