Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here

Archive for November 22, 2013

Have Drive-Thru Locations? Take a Cue From McDonald’s


Looks like McDonald’s drive thru is slowing down a bit – according to a study conducted by QSR Magazine, their drive thru wait time, from start to finish, is 189.49 seconds, which falls 9 seconds below industry average.

I worked at a McDonald’s in high school, and still vividly remember when corporate would test the drive thru – talk about nerve wracking! They would stand outside the menu board, and each window, with stopwatches, to ensure that wait times were as quick as possible.

According to a recent article, McDonald’s is attempting to solve the problem by adding a drive-thru window, which they refer to as “Fast Forward Drive Thru” which incorporates a third window for those who reach the pick up window before their order is ready.

But what else can be causing slower than average wait times at McDonald’s? Take a look at the list and see if any of these hold true for your drive thru locations:

1.  Not having an extra pick up window: the company believes that this may be part of the problem. To that end, they are incorporating a third window for those orders that aren’t quite ready. The traditional way McDonald’s has dealt with this issue is having customers pull forward or to a designated parking spot on the side. While this can move the line along, it may cause delays in other ways.

First, the staff needs to run out to the car, which could add time to the process, while taking time from assembling orders or assisting other customers. Secondly, for this to be effective, employees need to honor the process. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced some employees who would rather you sit at the window and hold up the line rather than move you to a parking space in the lot because it’s cold, rainy, etc, and they don’t feel like running out. This isn’t specific to McDonald’s I’m sure, but I’ve seen it happen.

2. Too much, too soon: McDonald’s USA President admitted that part of the problem might be their menu selection. In rolling out too many new items in short intervals, coupled with the fact that some of the menu items are more complex to make or take longer to cook, can result in longer wait times.

Add employee training and getting employees used to the new menu, and that can create a delay at the drive thru.

In addition to renovations, the company plans to provide additional training and engage employees in feedback surveys to identify and resolve any issues that may be playing into the increased drive thru times as well as general customer service issues.

Do you have similar drive thru issues? Do you think having limited windows is hindering your efforts? Most McDonald’s, at least in my area, have at least two windows – one for payment, and one for order pick up. Not every quick serve restaurant has his luxury, nor do they have money or space to add a window. What other things can you do to ensure drive-thru times are as quick as possible ?

Learn from the best: whether this means scoping out a competitor’s drive thru process or talking to your seasoned crew regarding their perceptions of the drive-thru experience and how to make improvements, listening and learning can go a long way in making changes.

Do it the Portillo’s way: Portillo’s is a Chicago based QSR that boasts probably the coolest drive thru processes I’ve ever seen. The location closest to me always has a line around the building, yet wait times aren’t any longer than one would expect for a quick meal.

What’s their secret? Extra staff serving as a human drive-thru speaker. During high volume times, staff are outside in the drive thru lane manually taking orders. The first staff you encounter takes your order and places a number on your windshield. After a few moments, another staff member approaches you to take payment. That leaves their two windows free for distributing meals. If you haven’t been to Portillos yet, you might want to make a visit next time you’re near one. It’s fascinating to watch!

QSR Magazine offered some ways to improve the drive-thru experience; take a look at what they’ve suggested. They offered a wide range of small ways to make the entire experience more favorable for guests.

With 70% of revenue for McDonald’s coming from its drive-thru, it’s no surprise that they realize improvement needs to be made. Customers expect quick service, especially when using the drive-thru. Looking to find your strengths and areas of challenge can make things better before there’s an issue. It’s never too late, but definitely better to be proactive than finding out there is an issue later.


Study Gets Inside Shoppers’ Brains – Literally


Researchers at Bangor University (UK) are taking “getting into a customer’s head” to a whole new level.


They are partnering with a UK based shopping behavior specialist company, SBXL, to further investigate changes in the brain that signal how consumers react to shopping experiences such as promotions, store layout, and time spent in the store.


Their prior research reveals some interesting information about consumer behavior as it relates to time spent in the store:


  • After approximately 23 minutes in a store, consumers tend to make more decisions based on emotions rather than rational thinking. It is after this time they are more likely to make impulse purchases.


  • After 40 minutes in a store, consumers tend to lose rational thinking all together, and will make decisions solely on emotional thinking. The theory holds that shoppers, at this point, will take advantage of promotions even if they end up being more expensive than what they originally planned to purchase. Another example is the “buy one get one free offer” – at this point in shopping, prior research suggests that at this point shoppers see the promotion, yet only take one item, ignoring the “get one free” part of the promotion.


This study will involved a specialized apparatus for participants to “shop”, so it strive to replicate the shopping experience as closely as it can without being in an actual store. This will be achieved by selecting products from a list to look at:


  • Changes to attention span based on length of time “shopping”
  • Reaction to promotions and ability to ignore products that are nearby, but not offered as a special discount or promotion.


This brain scan research is taking things to an entirely new level. In the recent past, companies have used eye tracking studies to evaluate advertising effectiveness, for example, but this study might reveal some additional insight into the minds of consumers.


Neuormarketing, which incorporates this type of data collection, is a fascinating area of research – this article offers some insight into what neuromarketing involves and how the information can be used to make decisions that directly affect consumer’s decision making purchases. It’s a long read, but is insightful into learning how consumers think, what makes them make the decisions they do, and how companies have incorporated this thinking into their own consumer experiences.




Calling in Sick? Don’t Use These Excuses


It’s Monday, the start of another work week. Mondays can be tough, and calling in sick may be tempting. But, you may want to watch out – between crazy excuses and employers checking up on you, you may want to think twice.


Career Builder released results of their annual study looking at calling off work, including how many do it for what reasons, and how employers deal with it.


What’s the most popular month to call off work? You probably guessed it, but December was noted as showing the highest percentage of employees calling off work, followed by January and then February.


The study also revealed that 32% of respondents called in when they weren’t actually sick. The reasons for missing work?


  • Just don’t feel like going (33%)
  • Needed to relax (28%)
  • Doctor appointments (24%)
  • Catching up on sleep (19%)
  • Running errands (14%)


The study also revealed the craziest reasons employees have called off based on responses from managers included in the study. Review the list carefully so you don’t use any of these the next time you call in sick to work:


· Employee’s false teeth flew out the window while driving down the highway

· Employee’s favorite football team lost on Sunday so needed Monday to recover

· Employee was quitting smoking and was grouchy

· Employee said that someone glued her doors and windows shut so she couldn’t leave the house to come to work

· Employee bit her tongue and couldn’t talk

· Employee claimed a swarm of bees surrounded his vehicle and he couldn’t make it in

· Employee said the chemical in turkey made him fall asleep and he missed his shift

· Employee felt like he was so angry he was going to hurt someone if he came in

· Employee received a threatening phone call from the electric company and needed to report it to the FBI

· Employee needed to finish Christmas shopping

· Employee’s fake eye was falling out of its socket

· Employee got lost and ended up in another state

· Employee couldn’t decide what to wear


As a manager, what are the craziest excuses you’ve heard? It’s a fun Monday topic – join in the conversation and let’s share a few laughs!