December 14, 2013

Not So Fast - In the Digital Age

While waiting for my food at McDonald's I usually fiddle with my smart phone.  With all the noise about digital ordering and payment, during these visits,  I try to imagine what would have been different about my customer experience if I'd ordered and paid with my phone. Would I have gotten in and out more quickly? The answer is usually - not really.

That's because I still have to wait three or four minutes for the food. A faster ordering and payment system would make no difference whatsoever. The credit card processing at McDonald's is so amazingly fast I don't see how one could improve over "instantaneous". Since a smart phone purchase is a debit or credit transaction I'll assume it would go through the same network, increasing the % of sales going out on "plastic", but not be any faster. If it were faster it would have to be measured in milliseconds.

Having said that, McDonald's and every other restaurant must eventually offer this opportunity. If nothing else but for the fun factor of doing things on-line or on a device. Ordering our pizza on Papa John's web site may not necessarily be any more efficient than picking up the phone - it's just more fun.

But, since so many of the decision makers at McDonald's Corporation have never run a restaurant I foresee the following exchange:

* Corporate guys announce new products, more LTOs, customization, and kitchen complexities.

* McDonald's Operators express concerns about the High Density Menu.

* Corporate guys respond, "Smart phone ordering and payments will fix those problems".

* Corporate guys then mumble something about "Millennials" and give out information on
   ordering the next equipment package.

McDonald's appears to be doing a good job of moving the system into the digital arena but it would be a mistake for Operators to rush into all things digital thinking it will solve their restaurant capacity problems in the back of the house.

There used to be an app for that - it was part of the original Plan to Win - called "Simplification".
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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Management explains that limited availability (LTOs)is part of the strategy for getting more customers into stores immediately. McRib fits that bill.

So the item became a customer favorite. Tell us again why you took it off the menu. Didn’t you say it was a main reason patrons were coming into stores?

Franchisees are not the only ones questioning the strategy behind LTOs. Domino’s, Papa Murphy’s and a number of other fast-food chains are reconsidering the tactical value of whetting the public’s appetite for an item, only to pull that product off menu boards while it’s still in demand. Why spend millions of marketing dollars to whet the public’s appetite for a product that might be pulled from stores before all the interested patrons have a chance to even try it? Isn’t it better to develop permanent draws, instead of going through the considerable trouble of rolling out products for a run of a few weeks?
Is Oak Brook deaf?

Anonymous said...

Not to mention also the onerous burden on our Managers to upload POP's up and down continuously.

Oak Brook is keeping customers on edge, they should hear the customers asking our crew and managers constantly why we keep bringing McRib on and off year after year?