What is in this article?:
- McDonald's to focus on customization, speed in 2014
- A look at tests for 2014
The company is testing “build-your-own” burgers, a third drive-thru window and more.
McDonald’s Corp. will attempt to overcome persistent headwinds and grow its market share in the United States in 2014 with new initiatives focused on customization and speed of service.
McDonald’s confirmed the test of “build-your-own” burgers in Southern California and plans for a third drive-thru window in forthcoming rebuilt or newly built restaurants. Both tests speak to McDonald’s publicly stated plans to expand menu offerings and improve speed of service through the adoption of its “high-density” kitchen equipment, which brand officials focused on during Thursday’s biennial Investor Day meeting in Oak Brook, Ill.
Kevin Newell, McDonald’s chief brand and strategy officer for the United States, said the high-density prep tables, which can hold dozens of fresh sandwich ingredients and are meant to improve kitchen efficiency, would be in place at McDonald’s 14,000-plus U.S. locations by next year.
“We’re ensuring that our kitchens are ready to deliver,” Newell said during the Investor Day meeting. “These tables will allow us to do two very important things: offer greater customization by accommodating more ingredients, and improve overall speed of service by improving the overall design and efficiency of the prep table.”
McDonald’s USA president Jeff Stratton noted during the same presentation that McDonald’s would reduce its number of remodels in the United States to 300 next year, allowing the company and its franchisees to prioritize the rollout of high-density kitchen equipment above all.
Jim Johannesen, the chief operating officer of McDonald’s USA, added that the new prep tables would give McDonald’s “an immediate ability to satisfy our customers in a greater way than we currently are.” The focus on kitchen upgrades also would be the more prudent use of franchisees’ cash flow, which decreased slightly in 2013, he said.
“Our owner-operators know this is a break in the action, a slight pause, and then in 2015 we’ll be right back into [reimaging],” Johannesen said. “Because the demand is there, people see that this hits on all cylinders for the customer. We are trying to be respectful of the pace of reinvestments that our operators make.”
Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president of Columbus, Ohio-based WD Partners, said the focus on throughput — seemingly at the expense of further remodeling — makes sense for McDonald’s, which is “the best of the large, mature chains in the quality of its stores and being current in style and amenities.”
“They have got to the point where they can easily afford the breather to slow that down and focus on the back-of-the-house,” he said. “It’s all part of a logical strategy to drive more sales, and thus more profits, through existing restaurants and existing customers.”