Bluetooth - GPRS - and other words that keep me employed...

Bean counters shouldn't interfere with burgers!

, posted: 7-Jul-2007 20:47

A few months ago I struck McDonald's new "JIT" system, where they no longer make-and-hold food, but rather make-on-demand.

At the time I couldn't believe how poorly the system was working.
A large group of us (with under-3's) decided to get together one Saturday lunchtime at the Riccarton branch as we wanted something that the kids would like with the minimum of effort.

What we struck was a complete disaster. The staff looked at the end of their tether, nobody seemed to know what was happening and the management of the store didn't even think to put up a sign indicating that they were trialling a new system. Many people walked out and after about 20 minutes we finally got our orders.

Later that weekend I decided to do some research into the new "system" and discovered it was a new system being launched globally. At the time I even found an article from a management website which explained that they were making the change to increase the quality of the food (because it doesn't sit in warming trays) and at the same time - and in my opinion is the TRUE reason for the change - they would reduce costs significantly because they would no longer be throwing out food if it wasn't sold within 10-12 minutes.

The article also pointed out that while the new system seemed good on paper, the cost savings would be lost IF they failed to continue to deliver "fast food" - which lets face it, is the main reason most people go to McDonalds.

So rather than just moaning to friends and family, I decided to contact McDonalds and question whether their strategy was such a good idea. I was particularly interested to hear their feedback to the comments that I overheard from customers while I was waiting in line and the fact that many people now walk away rather than having to deal with chaos. Unfortunately when I went to the McDonalds website I was disappointed to see that they have a notice on their site saying that they will accept feedback but don't expect a reply.

I must have hit a raw nerve though 8-). About two days later I had a phone call from the owner of many of the Christchurch branches and he explained the logic behind the changes that were being implemented in the restaurants. I really appreciated his time and after talking with him was somewhat hopeful that I had simply struck "teething problems".

That was a few months ago now and I can quite clearly now state that it wasn't teething problems.

The new system is STILL a disaster.

Admittedly some branches have tried to get around the problem with technology - using wireless PDA's, staff members weave between people in the queues and takes orders, handing them a ticket with a number on it that they then present at the counter to pay for the order. I have to admit by being intrigued by the new system - but that only keeps me entertained for a couple of minutes, after which the realization that the delays are still going to be much the same as before sets in!

Congratulations McDonalds - instead of the new system saving your business, you've actually put a nail in your own coffin. Your burgers don't taste any better/fresher - they just take twice as long to get now (on a good day).

You've failed to actually understand that people have been loyal to your brand because of consistency (anywhere in the world) & SPEED. Without your make-and-hold method, you simply cannot deliver food with the speed and efficiency that your brand has offered for decades.

Perhaps it's time for me to take a closer look at that local burger company offering shares in their company 8-).

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Comment by sbiddle, on 8-Jul-2007 19:04

This "new" system has been the norm at many US McD's restarurants for around 5 years. There are also some McD's stores in NZ who have only been making to order for quite some time.

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Nigel Hanson
New Zealand

Updated Profile... 

My job involves working with a variety of mainly Pocket PC or Windows CE devices, setting up GPRS connections over cable and/or Bluetooth. Setting up of these connections is either done programatically (in code) or manually (when all else fails).

Through this work (which sometimes involves visiting other parts of the world), I've come up with, err, I'd hate to call it a "wealth of information", but let's just say that I've struck enough problems over the last few years that I'm sure that SOMEBODY out there might benefit from some of the tips that I'll be putting up.

Nigel H.