An Efficient Process at the Drive-Thru Window

My favorite topic over the past 18 months has seemed to center on the struggles of McDonald’s. Despite very rarely frequenting the restaurant itself, I have taken an interest in the rocky road the company has had to navigate.

Yesterday the news hit that McDonald’s had introduced a new drive-thru policy. To help eliminate mistakes at the window, the company is now adhering to three words: “ask, ask, tell.”

When implementing this new system, the McDonald’s employee you are chatting with at the intercom will first ask if your order is correctly displayed on the monitor. Then, when you pay at the first window, another employee (or perhaps the same one from the intercom), will repeat your order and ask if it is still accurate. Finally, at the second window, the employee who hands you your food will tell you exactly what is in the bag. He or she will also leave the bag open instead of folding it to offer even greater transparency.

Would you believe it?! I went to McDonalds today and managed to capture my experience through the drive-thru.

Would you believe it?! I went to McDonalds today and managed to capture my experience through the drive-thru.

Although McDonald’s admits that it might take a little longer to receive your food, I don’t think many of us can complain. If you are like me, a botched order can completely ruin your fast food experience. I remember several occasions when I was little and my parents took us through the McDonald’s drive-thru and things didn’t go as planned. Perhaps nothing got an 8-year-old Brent more angry than biting into a supposed plain cheeseburger only to have it oozing ketchup after the first chunk was in my mouth. Yuck!

Things haven’t changed that much in the present day. On occasion, I still receive sabotaged orders at the drive-thru window (one of the many reasons why I don’t eat fast food often). Dinner ruined.

I went to pick up Sidney some lunch at McDonald's today. This is me up at the intercom. The first step in the new drive-thru process is to "ask."

I went to pick up Sidney some lunch at McDonald’s today. This is me up at the intercom. The first step in the new drive-thru process is to “ask.”

Timing is always funny. The news about McDonald’s revamped drive-thru strategy hit the media yesterday. Last night, I asked Sidney if I could visit her during lunch today. With it being Thanksgiving week on campus and with all the students gone, it was a perfect opportunity for me to head out to Palmetto Bays Elementary. She said of course and asked if I could bring her, you guessed it, MCDONALD’S.

This is me paying for the food. This was the second "ask" step of the process.

This is me paying for the food. This was the second “ask” step of the process.

So today I had the opportunity to experience the “ask, ask, tell” method fresh off of its implementation. Things got off to a rocky start. Sidney wanted chicken nuggets but ordering them at 10 a.m. wasn’t a good idea. McDonald’s apparently doesn’t serve non-breakfast items until after 10:30 a.m. After cutting out of the drive-thru and going the wrong way to a parking spot so I could text Sidney for her new order, it was back up to the intercom for me.

This time when I actually ordered something that they were serving at the moment, things went better. I ordered her the sausage biscuit meal without the egg but with cheese. The employee asked if my order was accurate while drawing my attention to the screen. I went to the first window and paid and the woman there rattled off my order and asked it if was correct. I pulled up to the second window and, just like the news articles said, I did have to wait much longer than normal. But the employee gave me the bag with a big smile and told me what was inside. Seamless.

Me happy after going through the third and final "confirm" step of McDonalds' new drive-thru process.

Me happy after going through the third and final “confirm” step of McDonalds’ new drive-thru process.

For the first time in what has seemed like forever, the most recent quarterly earnings for McDonalds improved over the previous report. This is another move in the right direction. Don’t Blink.

Welcome Back to Relevancy, McDonalds

In my opinion, the business that I felt really shined during the Super Bowl ads was McDonald’s. During the game on Sunday, the restaurant chain utilized two different spots to promote its new “payment” option. During the first spot, McDonald’s simply said a new form of payment would be accepted at its restaurants. They purposely left out what that type of payment would be. About an hour later the second commercial ran with McDonald’s officially announcing its “Pay With Lovin” campaign.

Running through Valentine’s Day, random customers will be given the option to “Pay With Lovin” as opposed to more traditional money-related methods. Acceptable “Pay With Lovin” tasks shown during the commercials included customers calling their moms, customers dancing, and customers telling their children that they love them. When I looked up the promotion online, I found out that other tasks given out could include giving hugs or taking a selfie with a McDonald’s employee. The way the second commercial was produced did produce that “awwwwww” factor and I believe people were generally touched by it. Effective way to get the most out of $9 million.

McDonalds hit it out of the park with its latest "Pay With Lovin'" promotion.

McDonalds hit it out of the park with its latest “Pay With Lovin'” promotion.

Aside from the commercials themselves, I think the promotion is golden. I think some might think that the campaign is cheesy to a degree but most of us will get over it. Honestly, who won’t bust a move at the register or hug a stranger for a free meal? I think majority of folks won’t be apprehensive to it at all. An employee gives them a task and says “free” and they will be all over it. I feel most people will have fun doing whatever it is they are asked to do.

I think this is a dynamite campaign for two reasons. First, customers are going to leave McDonald’s with a great impression. Most likely their day is going to be made and quite possibly they might be making the day of someone else too. Leaving the restaurant with a smile and a bag of free food doesn’t get much better. This type of a visit will no doubt lead to return visits.

Second, this campaign will generate viral, social media gold, hopefully from a couple different vantage points. I imagine McDonald’s already has hundreds of professional videographers across the country at different restaurants ready to document these “Pay With Lovin” tasks. Video to immediately put up on the corporate social media channels, additional promo materials, and footage to use down the road will all result from what the videographers capture. Of course, perhaps even more powerful than what the professionals capture is what the customers themselves will capture. Videos, images, and posts generated by customers utilizing the #PayWithLovin hashtag will inundate the social media world with intriguing content. Friends and strangers alike will see these posts and a positive impression of McDonald’s will most likely form. People who had no plans to visit the restaurant will now walk through the doors…or, um, through the golden arches.

McDonald’s needed this. It seems like a couple times each week I read an article in the paper about the restaurant’s decline. Surprisingly enough, this was a totally original idea that didn’t even come from the tips I gave the chain back in September. I think this move by MIckey D’s is genius marketing that will result in loads of positive PR (it already has). Well played, McDonald’s. Don’t Blink.

My Ideas for Saving McDonalds

Read the business section of the newspaper or even watch the national news and you are bound to hear about the tailspin that McDonalds is on. The giant restaurant corporation has suffered slumping quarterly earnings for quite some time now. The past couple weeks it has seemed like the panic button has been activated as there are some real issues for Micky D’s.

I am not a McDonalds fan. I have ate there twice in the past two years. However, there was a time when I ate at the “Golden Arches” more often. Heck, my sister used to work there. So given my past with McDonalds and my so-so marketing IQ, I want to quickly offer my five best suggestions for reversing the declining sales of the world’s most popular restaurant chain.

I have five ideas to help McDonalds. And yes, only I would go out of my way on the drive home to find a McDonalds and take a selfie at the sign for a blog post.

I have five ideas to help McDonalds. And yes, only I would go out of my way on the drive home from work to find a McDonalds and take a selfie at the sign for a blog post.

Eliminate Terrible Car Smell: One of the worst smells in the world is when you enter a vehicle that had McDonalds food in it within the past 48 hours. The number one reason why I don’t eat at McDonalds is because I don’t care for the food but my number two reason is because I would never subject my car to the “after stench” of having the greasy grub riding shotgun with me. Do you think someone with a new car will go through the McDonalds drive-thru? Heck no! McDonalds could moderately increase business by finding some way to not make the food stink as bad. Alternatively, they could also introduce an air freshener that is given to you at the drive-thru window that would naturally eliminate the smell. Call it the McFresher.

Improve Chicken Nuggets: The rare times that I do go to McDonalds I order chicken nuggets. However, I think they suck. McDonalds needs to do something to make them better. I offer this suggestion: Make them bigger AND stuff them with something! How cool would it be if when you bit into a nugget cheese or BBQ sauce would come out? Or how about go completely crazy and have either honey or frosting in the middle? (yes, I just suggested putting frosting in chicken nuggets). I think a campaign that totally remakes one of McDonalds’ signature menu items would cause an exciting and profitable stir.

You see those card behind me? Many of them had people inside and they were all wondering what I was doing.

You see those card behind me? Many of them had people inside and they were all wondering what I was doing.

Social Media Deal EVERY DAY: McDonalds is starting to up its game on social media. Each day it seems like a sponsored McDonalds Instagram image comes up in my feed. This is a great first step but I want more than a stock image. I want a deal! Each day on the social media outlets of McDonalds they should offer a free small side of fries, a worthwhile BOGO deal, or the option to supersize your meal (if they even do that anymore) at no charge. McDonalds could seriously measure their social media reach while at the same time laying claim to the distinction of being the first fast food chain to offer a social media deal every single day. We all know these offers won’t break the bank, in fact they work well to increase the bottom line.

New Menu Item Each Month: Taco Bell does this so incredibly well. You turn on the TV and you are bound to see some creative and tasty looking new menu item that the chain is offering for a limited time. Dorito hard shells, quesadilla wrapped burritos, waffle tacos, etc. McDonalds no longer keeps up in this department. If they do offer something new it is boring, dry, and expensive (think salads or a fruit cup)! Taco Bell introduces items that look so good you want to tweet about it. As I mentioned above, chicken nuggets would be a good start but then McDonalds must follow by continually introducing new, creative items.

New Spokesperson: McDonalds has done away with Ronald McDonald. With so many companies successfully integrating individuals to serve as the face for their company, maybe McDonalds should follow suit. The new Wendys girl, Flo from Progressive (who I hate with a passion), and that equally annoying girl from AT&T have all provided their respective companies with an identity. I say McDonalds should invest in a female spokesperson as well…one who is attractive and who doesn’t make me want to rip my ears off. I think such a hire would give McDonalds a fresh new identity and light a spark.

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It is time for McDonalds to turn this ship around. My ideas differed from the typical “healthier choices” and “more sophisticated ordering options” that all the experts talk about. I like to think outside of the Happy Meal box and offer some unique solutions. Best of luck McDonalds, time to sink or swim. Please don’t be offended though when I say I couldn’t care less if you filed for bankruptcy tomorrow. Don’t Blink.