McDonald's Adds Drive-Thru Window To Combat Slow Service

DES PLAINES, IL - OCTOBER 24:  A sign directs customers to the drive-thru at a McDonald's restaurant on October 24, 2013 in D
DES PLAINES, IL - OCTOBER 24: A sign directs customers to the drive-thru at a McDonald's restaurant on October 24, 2013 in Des Plaines, Illinois. McDonald's has announced it will make changes to its low-priced Dollar Menu, which includes items like coffee, small fries, hamburgers and apple pies. The new menu, dubbed the Dollar Menu and More, will offer some higher priced options such as the grilled Onion Cheddar Burger and a McChicken sandwich. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

McDonald's has announced it will add a new window to its drive-thru in hopes of speeding up the process and improving its customer service.

Under the current set up, customers place their orders, then drive up to a window where they pick up their food. The fast-food chain says it's testing a "Fast Forward Drive-Thru" that lets customers drive to a third stop if their orders aren't ready.

McDonald's spokeswoman Lisa McComb says the Fast Forward Drive-Thru will be featured in new and renovated restaurants starting next year.

Over the course of next year, McDonald's will spend $3 billion to open 1,500 to 1,600 new locations and upgrade 1,000 existing ones.

The company acknowledged yesterday that its customer service needs improvement, and the drive-thru is one area in particular that could use some attention. This year, McDonald's saw its slowest average drive-thru time ever -- 189.49 seconds from order to pick-up, according to a QSR magazine study. That's nine seconds slower than the industry average. For a company that not only prides itself on speed but also earns about 70 percent of its sales via the drive-thru, that slow-down is significant.

Jeff Stratton, president of McDonald's USA, believes the company introduced too many new items too quickly, and wants to focus this year on restructuring the production process instead. In addition to the new drive-thru window, the chain is also working on new food prep tables. The company's chief brand and strategy executive for the U.S. told investors that McDonald's needs "to be smarter about how we roll new products out," and the shifted focus on making production more efficient is a step in the right direction. So maybe McDonald's new jalapeno kickers are the last major new product we'll be seeing for awhile.



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