McDonald’s is among the restaurants increasingly leaning in to off-prem, including drive-thru, curbside and to-go operations.
And for good reason. Delivery and drive-thru have been boosting the brand’s bottom line, especially in the U.S. market where most of the 2,000 locations offer both. “They were the difference maker when the pandemic hit and are at the heart of our combined efforts to create a faster, easier better customer experience,” said McDonald's President and CEO Chris Kempczinski in a January 28 earnings call with analysts for Q4 and year ended December 31, 2020.
Digital sales are also on the upswing.
“Digital sales exceeded 10 billion; we are nearly 20% of systemwide sales in 2020 across our top six markets,” Kempczinski added.
Drive-Thru Excellence Defined
McDonald's is among the brands that are optimizing its drive-thru and planning new store designs and new technology to improve CX. McDonald’s has been able to decrease its drive-thru waits, an impressive feat as volume skyrocketed during the pandemic. “We've discovered capacity that we didn't even realize we've had. We think in the last year, we've moved something like 300 million additional cars through our drive-thrus,” said CK. “… A few years ago, I was thinking that we were pretty, pretty maxed out on drive-thru.”
Drive-thru wait times were slashed in 2019 and in again 2020. “Overall we reduced drive-thru times by roughly 30 seconds over the past two years in our major markets,” explained CFO Kevin Ozan during the earnings call.
Here’s how McDonald’s slashed its drive-thru times during the pandemic. “… I think that's a combination of a few things,” explained Ozan. “One is menu simplification and the more limited menu … but also just a big focus on operations around the world, which includes some non-sexy stuff like staffing and positioning of our crew, some certain technology that we put in the restaurants to help the crew monitor the times. And so there's just some basic kind of operating the restaurants efficiently that goes along with the right menu and menu boards.
“And so, there continues to be a big focus on drive-thru operations, especially because we've seen drive-thru continue to be a bigger percentage of our business.”
The global QSR is striving for additional excellence. “…There's still a big focus around the company on continuing to improve those service times,” Ozan added.