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OM in the News: McDonald’s New Dining Experience

November 25, 2016
Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s chief executive, demonstrating how ordering is done at a self-service kiosk in NY

Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s CEO, demonstrating a self-service kiosk in NY

McDonald’s just announced changes that could reshape the diner’s experience, saying that it would expand its digital self-serve ordering stations and table service to all of its 14,000 American restaurants. The company said once people order at one of the stations — sleek, vertical touchscreens — they will get a digital location device and can take a seat. When their burgers and fries are ready, the technology will guide a server to the table to deliver the food with a big smile and a thank you.

Customers will still be able to order food the old-fashioned way, at the counter. But the move to self-order systems and table service is one way to address one of the biggest problems the company’s restaurants have faced in recent years: slower food delivery to customers, caused by more items on the menu. The thinking is that customers will be more willing to wait if they are sitting at a table instead of waiting at a counter.

“McDonald’s has tested the order system in 500 revamped restaurants,” writes The New York Times (Nov. 18, 2016), and is now introducing it around the globe. Some 44,000 customers have been served at tables using the new system, with families and groups being the biggest users so far. The self-serve stations seem to make it easier to customize an order. Many of the company’s customers, though, do not enter the restaurant. About 60-70% of sales come from its drive-through lanes.

The vast majority of McDonald’s locations are owned by franchisees, and they will be responsible for paying for the changes. Equipment and installation of the 8 order screens cost upward of $56,000, and franchisees are often loath to make such investments at a time when sales are stagnant.

Classroom discussion questions:

  1. Draw a process chain network (see Ch.5) for this system.
  2. How has the company added “service efficiency”?
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