McDonald’s Drive-Thru Operational Process

Subject: Business
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1487
Topics: McDonald's, Management, Marketing

1. Introduction

As an operational model, drive-thru concept has been existing since the time of 1920s. Still, the drive-thru model really came into operational process of restaurants during mid-1970s (Apsley et al., 2009). In past two decades, drive-thru operational model has gained huge popularity within the restaurant business, as majority of the top restaurants have opted to use this process. McDonald’s opened its first drive-thru restaurant in Sierra Vista during the year of 1975 (Daily Advertiser, 2017). In this process, customers do not have to enter into the restaurant outlets for placing an order. They can easily purchase foods as per their convenience from the windows. The use of drive-thru model assists the customers to save time at the time of purchasing any food from the restaurant. However, the initiation of drive-thru concept also has created different challenges for the restaurants (Russell and Taylor-Iii, 2008). The report will highlight the key challenges associated with the drive-thru operational process of McDonald’s. It will provide two effective recommendations for improving the existing drive-thru process of the organization.   

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2. Transformational process model for satisfying current customer needs

As per the article by Russell and Taylor-Iii (2008), transformational process model refers to a specific activity or group of activities that take one or more inputs and convert them to value added output for satisfying customers need and wants. The operational process of McDonald’s has also concentrated on providing value added services to keep the loyalty and satisfaction level of the customers intact (Ryu, Lee and Gon Kim, 2012). The vision statement of McDonald’s emphasizes on the fact that the organization always aims to provide the best quality services for creating separate position in the target market.


Figure 1: Transformational process model of McDonald’s

Transformational process model of McDonald’s

(Source: Author’s Creation)

The figure above has illustrated the fact that the entire operational process of McDonald’s is based on the quality of goods and services completely. Therefore, the organization always concentrates on providing the best quality services to the customers for enhancing the overall revenue level. The quality of service is an extremely critical factor for effective use of drive-thru concept. People opt for drive-thru process of purchasing goods to save time of transaction. Therefore, it is essential for McDonald’s to ensure that the entire transaction process requires very limited time. As a result, it has induced the organization to increase the efficiency of present operational process through adding more human and technological resources.

3. Flow chart of McDonald’s current drive-thru operational process 

As illustrated by Allon, Federgruen and Pierson (2011), development of efficient operational process is key for any organization to use drive-thru operational process successfully. The success of the process depends heavily on the time a particular organization is taking for performing the entire process cycle. For that reason, McDonald’s has concentrated on formulating systematic procedure for performing all the activities associated with the drive-thru ordering process. It has enabled the company in dealing with increasing demand within drive through process efficiently. 

Figure 2: Drive thru operational process of McDonald’s

Drive thru operational process of McDonald’s

(Source: Author’s Creation)

The figure above has highlighted the fact that McDonald’s has concentrated on performing all the activities related drive-thru operational process in a systematic way. The entire process has aimed to reduce the waiting time of customers as much as possible. McDonald’s has recruited separate people for each of the tasks related to the drive-thru operational process (Money, 2014).  Therefore, it has assisted the company to use specialized skills of the employees for performing all the requirements. In addition, McDonald’s has used different advance technologies like wireless headset system for employees in order to maintain coordination at each step of the operational process. The organization has also focused on developing clean and healthy environment in the waiting area to ensure that it does not create any negative impression within the customers’ mind. On the other hand, the organization has developed LCD or LED display menu board for the convenience of the customers (Development Assessment Commission, 2016). It has allowed the customers to select foods as per their liking within very limited timeframe, which eventually reduced the time required for fulfilling the entire order cycle. In addition, McDonald’s has included window payment method for the customers to ensure they do not have to get out from their car for any purpose. The use of systematic procedure with the help of advance tools and technologies has assisted the company in increasing the popularity of drive through operational process within the targeted group of customers. 

4. Polar diagram analysis

According to Stevenson and Hojati (2007), polar diagram is used to emphasize the relative significance of each performance objective to a process or operation. It can also be used to analyze the difference between different services or products manufactured by a process. In order to assess the efficiency and bottlenecks of McDonald’s drive-thru operational process, the organization needs to evaluate each factor appropriately. 

Figure 3: Polar diagram of McDonald’s drive-thru operational process

Polar diagram of McDonald’s drive-thru operational process

(Source: Author’s creation)

The efficiency of drive-thru operational process of McDonald’s can be measured with five determinants including cost, quality, speed, flexibility and dependability. Appropriate evaluation of all these factors can help McDonald’s in identifying key areas of improvement. Firstly, quality focuses on analyzing the quality of products and services provided by McDonald’s within the drive-thru operational process. The organization has received several complaints from the customers regarding the degrading quality of products and services. Recently, McDonalds has fired few workers in Dearborn area for involving in heated exchange with the customers (Detroit Free Press, 2017). The organization also has received many complaints regarding the freshness of the offered food products. It highlights the fact that McDonald’s needs to focus more on enhancing the quality of provided services for enhancing the profit level even further.

McDonald’s has constantly maintained high flexibility in its existing operational process for making necessary changes appropriately. For instance, the organization is always opened towards adding new and improved technologies for enhancing the overall efficiency level of the process. McDonald’s is currently testing different custom software applications including burger program and VIP car pass for adding more flexibility within the drive-thru operational process (Business Insider Australia, 2014). Maintenance of speed within drive-thru operation is extremely important for McDonald’s to keep customers happy and satisfied with the services. However, recent survey has highlighted that the organization takes around 208.16 seconds per customer on an average (QSR magazine, 2016). It is actually reflecting 25% slower drive-thru operational process from its previous years of performance. In fact, the declining speed of drive-thru operational process has reduced the customer visits of McDonald’s by around 500 million (Business Insider, 2017). Therefore, it has created adverse impact on the overall profitability of the company. Thus, the organization needs to concentrate more on improving the speed of drive-thru operational process for handling future challenges appropriately.

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McDonald’s has constantly concentrated on including advance tools and technologies for enhancing the efficiency of the operational procedure. Therefore, it has invested greater amount of money in adding value to the provided services. As the companies such as Starbucks have developed drive thru process, McDonald’s has to face extremely competitive pressure from the market. For that reason, the management of McDonald’s has aimed to invest more in gaining larger market share across the global network. On the other hand, McDonald’s is in the drive-thru operational process for more than four decades. It has served people across the global market successfully through efficient use of advanced tools and technologies. Presently, McDonald’s has created more than 35,000 drive-thru shop locations in around 100 countries (Franchise Direct, 2017). Therefore, it has also increased the overall dependability of the operational process within the mind of the customers. 

5. Recommendations

The evaluation of McDonald’s drive-thru process has prioritized the areas of improvements for the organization. Firstly, it needs to identify the best possible way to enhance the quality of the operational procedure. In order to improve its service quality, McDonald’s will have to provide adequate training to the employees. The organization needs to highlight the importance of maintaining professional attitude at the time of dealing with the customers efficiently. It will assist the organization in eliminating any misbehavior with the customers in near future. McDonald’s has to concentrate on improving its inventory management facilities to ensure that all the customers receive high quality products at each time. The organization can focus on using lean management facilities for enhancing the overall satisfaction level of the targeted customers. 

The analysis has illustrated that the speed of operation of McDonald’s is declining continuously. Therefore, the management will have to concentrate on adding new advance tools and technologies for improving the efficiency even further. The organization needs to reduce time regarding the payment of drive-thru operation in future. Again, the initiation of lean management technique can also help McDonald’s to increase its operational process. McDonald’s can likewise upgrade its current wireless microphone tools for enhancing the coordination level among employees within drive-thru operational process. 

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  1. Allon, G., Federgruen, A. and Pierson, M., 2011. How much is a reduction of your customers’ wait worth? An empirical study of the fast-food drive-thru industry based on structural estimation methods. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 13(4), pp.489-507.
  2. Apsley, J.M., Gonzalez-Villasenor, A., Barnes, M., Smith, A.C., Williamson, S., Schuddebeurs, J.D., Norman, P.J., Booth, C.D., Burt, G.M. and McDonald, J.R., 2009. Propulsion drive models for full electric marine propulsion systems. IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, 45(2), pp.676-684.
  3. Business Insider Australia, 2014. McDonald’s Tests Program That Could Improve Drive-Thru Wait Times. [online]. 
  4. Business Insider, 2017. McDonald’s may have finally figured out how to speed up its drive-thru service. [online] 
  5. Daily Advertiser, 2017. McDonald’s: A fast-food history. [online] 
  6. Detroit Free Press, 2017. McDonald’s worker fired after heated exchange at drive-thru in Dearborn. [online] 
  7. Development Assessment Commission, 2016. McDonald’s Australia Ltd. [online] 
  8. Franchise Direct, 2017. How Has McDonald’s Been So Successful for So Long? [online] 
  9. Money, 2014. 10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Fast Food Drive-Thru. [online]
  10. QSR magazine, 2016. Speed of Service. [online] 
  11. Russell, R.S. and Taylor-Iii, B.W., 2008. Operations management along the supply chain. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
  12. Ryu, K., Lee, H.R. and Gon Kim, W., 2012. The influence of the quality of the physical environment, food, and service on restaurant image, customer perceived value, customer satisfaction, and behavioral intentions. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 24(2), pp.200-223.
  13. Stevenson, W.J. and Hojati, M., 2007. Operations management (Vol. 8). Boston: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
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