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OM in the News: Speeding Up the McDonald’s Drive-Thru

November 20, 2013

mcdonaldsMcDonald’s Corp., losing the speed race to rivals and racking up customer complaints about slow service, is adding a third drive-thru window, reports The Chicago Tribune (Nov.15, 2013).

Called Fast Forward Drive-Thru, the reboot will start appearing in new and rebuilt McDonald’s stores next year. Patrons now pay at the first window and pick up food at the second. Soon there will be a second pick-up window. The drive-thru is even more important to McDonald’s than the Big Mac. The fast-food chain generates 70% of its sales from hungry drivers. Ever since McDonald’s created its first drive-thru in 1975 in Sierra Vista, Ariz., fast-food chains have competed fiercely to shave seconds off order times, equipping workers with headsets, video cameras and clocks showing how long cars have been waiting. In the early days, fast-food restaurants derived about 40% of their sales from drive-thrus.

Disgruntled diners have taken to Twitter to complain about slow drive-thru service at McDonald’s. “I HATE when McDonald’s makes me pull out of the drive thru line and wait in a parking spot like a chump,” @EmLynnClements posted last week. @HumblePie34 added: “McDonald’s needs an express drive thru lane so I don’t have to wait an hour for a mcflurry.”

A more complicated menu has bogged down McDonald’s service. Customers, for example, can choose from 9 different sauces to go with Mighty Wings. Fueling up at McDonald’s drive-thrus takes longer than at Taco Bell and Wendy’s. It takes 189 seconds at a McDonald’s, compared with 158 seconds at Taco Bell and 134 seconds at Wendy’s. McDonald’s drive-thru service is slower than last year and its slowest ever.

Classroom discussion questions:

1. Name 5 ways to increase service efficiency (see Chapter 5, page 175).

2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of adding the 3rd window? Why doesn’t every drive-thru use this approach?

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 8, 2013 5:33 pm

    A Wendy’s Operator Looks To Speed Up Crucial Drive-Through Sales With Toll Tags

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