Fast Food Seconds Count

Fast Food Seconds Count - and tiny effciencies mafter -...

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and tiny effciencies mafter - statistics show that every six-second improvement in speed of service results in a 1% jump in sales. Jb compete, managers must predict traffic volumes in hourly intervals or less in order to precisely calibrate staffng and food. Underesti- mate, and lines form, customers lose patience, a store loses busi- ness. Overestimate, and margins go into the trash along with wasted burgers. "Think of it this way," says Brian Sill, a Kirkland, Wash., consultant and a pioneer of restaurant "throughput engi- neering." "If in a peak period, like lunch, you go from handling 40 cars an hour to 50 cars in your drive-thru, you're going to bank that extra money," since your overhead remains the same. At Wendy's, the process has been parsed to the point that servers are taught to hand off the drink in the same motion as taking the cash. This reality has made speed of service a major focus for the big chains - though the customer may not notice. Chances are, you'll get that hamburger about as fast today as you would have 20 years ago. The difference is, you now have way more choice. Wendy's offers you 256 ways to customize your han-rburger, and up to a third of McDonald's menu items are made-to-order. There are salads, subs and wraps of all qpes, boasting fresh vegetables and just the condiments you want. Naturally, all that takes longer, forc- ing restaurants to make up the time eisewhere. So chains are test- ing everything fiom multiple drive-thru lanes, to speakers that cut down on garbled orders, to anwhing that reduces fumbling with cash. "If you're not seriouslv looking at cashless pa),.rnent at the drive-thru, online ordering, seif:sen'ice kiosks or tech-based train- ing, you're going to fall behind. That's a promise," thundered a re- cent headline tn QSR Magazhrc, the industry bible. Go behind the counter at a modern quick-ser- vice restaurant and you'll find a fir-rely runed industrial machine, where the mechanical, digital and hurnan components all run ac- cording to an unforgiving clock. "You crrn only make money in this business based on rurnoveq" sa\,s f)ouglas Fisher, a food- service consultant in Toronto. "The rlore you can turn a restau- rant during a dining period, the more vou reduce vour labour costs per sales and increase your revenues. The n-rirnager and server time is free for each additional turnover." The day starts early at this eight-month-old, double- drive-thru restaurant, which borders a new subdivi- sion and a high school, just east of Toronto. Outside, it's brutally cold and blustery and the shift is off to a slow start. But Mike Forman, the franchise's owner/operator, isn't worried: The rush here doesn't begin until about 8 a,m., and then it stays busy right through lunch, Each morning, a computer spis out an hourly schedule of low, medium and high traffrc volumes, projected according to patterns for that day of the week over the previous month. It also estimates sales
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Fast Food Seconds Count - and tiny effciencies mafter -...

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