Over the years, McDonald’s has earned the reputation of being able to seamlessly reinvent itself. For a food company that has been operational since 1940, you expect nothing less, right?
Consumer needs are continuously evolving, so a company planning to remain relevant has to keep up with the changing times. This time around, it’s all about the drive-thru experience, and how to keep it as convenient as possible to the restaurants’ customers.
For the longest time ever, McDonald’s was hailed as the drive-thru king. However, the company lost its crown when it was established that the time spent at its drive-thrus is a little bit more than the nation’s average.
In 2019, the trend is yet to change, with McDonald’s drive-thrus registering a 284-second wait, compared to the national average of a 255-second wait. All the same, time spent in drive-thrus across the country has increased, with 255 seconds being an increase of 11 seconds compared to last year’s figure.
As if knowing that QPR, the magazine that conducted the drive-thru study was due to release its report, McDonald’s announced a program whose sole aim is to reduce time spent at their drive-thrus just a day before.
The announcement came via an internal memo that Business Insider obtained, being a directive from the company’s headquarters to its franchisees to commit to improving the drive-thru experience.
Although taking up the program is optional, the general expectation is that each franchisee will immediately be on board with the proposal, especially since more locations are now eligible for a second drive-thru lane, internally referred to as side-by-side drive-thrus.
Initially, a McDonald’s franchisee would have to register a peak hour drive-thru traffic of at least 90 vehicles, but the new program reduces this number to 70 vehicles. For those who opt into the program, they’ll have to pay an upfront fee of 10% of the total project cost, with the remaining cost of up to 50% being taken up by the company in form of reduced rental costs.
According to QSR, the waiting time in McDonald’s drive-thrus has been on the rise for the past six years. However, you can argue that the company isn’t to blame for this. In fact, the magazine attributes having more customers each year as one of the reasons why this is the case.
Use of Advanced Technology
All the same, Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s CEO, isn’t just about to let his company’s success be the source of its downfall. He has been working left, right, and center to improve the drive-thru experience by integrating the use of advanced technology, going as far back as March this year.
In a deal worth $300 million, the company announced that it had acquired Dynamic Field, an artificial intelligence company. With this tech, menus at McDonald’s drive-thrus update instantaneously, giving the customer suggestions that would pair up nicely with their order.
In addition to being time-saving, the tech also prompts the customer to spend a bit more, making it a win-win situation for McDonald’s.
Technology seems to be the go-to solution for the company, seeing as they’ve also recently acquired Apprente, a voice tech company. According to a statement they released, integrating this tech will allow faster and accurate drive-thru order taking.