Would you be more likely to go to fast food restaurant if it guaranteed how long you wait at the drive thru? Some McDonald’s in South Florida are doing just that (McDonald’s offers a 60-second lunch guarantee on weekdays, Aug 4).
McDonald’s guests at participating South Florida restaurants will receive timers when paying for their order in the drive-thru. The timers are then returned to the McDonald’s crew member when their food is presented. This guarantee promises that customers will receive their meal within 60 seconds of paying for it, or receive a complimentary lunch item on a future visit.
The guarantee doesn’t apply all day. Indeed, it is only in effect for an hour — but it is the hour that matters, noon to one.
Let me acknowledge upfront that this is clearly a gimmick. McDonald’s has been in a funk and their drive thru times have been climbing (along with the time of many in the industry). So this offers customers some assurance and maybe puts a little competitive pressure on some of the other players in the industry.
But as gimmicks go, I kind of like this one.
First, it is a little bit of Service Management 101. Who is to say that 90 seconds is way too long a wait at the drive thru while 45 seconds is stellar performance? Different customers will have different levels of tolerance and the same customer may be fine with two minutes on some days but be pulling their hair out after 30 seconds on others. Having the service provider set the standard gets around all this. Promising a one-minute wait means that customers, front-line workers, and management all agree on how long is too long. Further, what should happen when getting a meal creeps up to 90 seconds is also clear. This gimmick puts McDonald’s in control.
A second aspect of this I like is that they have committed to only a small part of the day. I suspect that the peak arrivals happen a little after noon and that things are pretty much dead from 10:30 until noon. That means that the restaurant has a solid block of time in which to get all their ducks in a row before the rush hits. That likely means not missing the one-minute target very often. Stretching out the guarantee until 2:00, however, may be hard. After 1:00, various things need to be resupplied and workers are getting tired. Customers arriving at 1:30 may well see disappointing service.