After revealing McDonald’s new growth strategy to investors this month, CEO Steve Easterbrook characterized the plan as nothing less than “building a better McDonald’s.” He could just as well have christened it “betting on to-go.”
The program calls for blending operational changes with technology to form an unbeatable force in takeout and delivery. The main tactic is geometrically increasing the ways consumers can place and receive orders, with those innovations doing double duty as time savers.
Here are some of the highlights.
Addition of curbside delivery
Many of the changes pivot on the introduction this year of a mobile order-and-pay-ahead function, an advance that shifts a number of time-eating processes—order placement, customization and payment—outside the restaurants. To further streamline the transaction, the chain is adding curbside service, or what casual dining cooked up as its answer to drive-thrus. Once the system is in place, customers will be able to enter a personalized order via their smart phones and then head to the pickup restaurant. Technology will detect when the patrons are on premise and fire the order, and staffers will bring the meal to the car’s designated waiting spot.
The addition of curbside will presumably shorten lines at the drive-thru, where patrons can also pick up their pre-ordered-and-paid-for meals. Here again, a drive-thru order taker doesn’t have to sort through the customization; that’s all done ahead of time via the app.
Nor does the employee have to hear a repeat of the order. Rather, an order placed via phone generates a code the customer reads into the drive-thru microphone. The code designates which order, cooked when the customer’s presence was detected, goes to that car.
Introducing ‘guest experience leaders’
Full-service restaurants might call them runners, or the staff members who bring orders to customers’ tables, where they can either eat the meal or head out with the food. In the instance of McDonald’s, the guest experience leaders will be the guest’s human connection to the kitchen. Customized orders can be placed via kiosks, which can also read the app and assume the customer is having the usual. With the app and the guest experience leaders, the customer never has to go to the counter to place or pick up the order.
Although the chain is still testing arrangements with third parties in the United States, it has the foundation in place to instantly become “the global leader in delivery,” according to management. In the U.S., Canada and the rest of McDonald’s top five markets, 75% of the population lives within three miles of a unit, an ideal setup for bringing food to patrons’ homes and offices.
Overseas, McDonald’s is already generating sales of nearly $1 billion via delivery. It estimates the market at $100 billion.
Executives indicated that the chain will likely choose third-party deliverers as a way of tapping that market.