October 04, 2010

Self-Service: The Drive-Thru Experience

The impact that self-service drive-thrus have on your business. Popeyes used to rank low but proactively addressed it. How they did it.

Drive Thru Study for Quick Serve Restaurants - QSR magazine

The Drive-Thru Experience
You’re fast, you’re accurate, but today’s consumers want more from your drive-thru experience. By Daniel P. Smith


Ralph Bower and his colleagues at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen saw room for improvement.

For years, the Atlanta-based brand’s drive-thru experience suffered in industry studies, while the company’s own internal and external measures found drive-thru customers wanting. In search of better results, Bower, Popeyes’ chief operating officer, spearheaded the company’s drive-thru reinvention.

In 2009, Popeyes unveiled its Service with Speed initiative, a systemwide program aimed at turning the brand’s languishing drive-thru service in a positive direction. No longer could—or would—Popeyes shoot for the norm.

The program started simple: Provide each restaurant with headsets and timers, equipment fewer than half of existing Popeyes possessed. Later in 2009, the company instituted detailed training initiatives and reporting channels to provide the necessary metrics to gauge the program’s success and ROI. Finally, in January 2010, Popeyes corporate introduced the third and final Service with Speed step when it launched a formal employee recognition and incentive program, a move aimed at inspiring enthusiastic workplace performance.


The seemingly modest changes have added up to steady gains, both in customer satisfaction and the bottom line. In 2010’s second quarter, consumer perception of Popeyes’ speed of service increased 9 percent compared to Q2 2009 on Popeyes’ own internal Guest Expectation Monitor (GEM). In that same time frame, domestic and international same-store sales both jumped as well. (Popeyes’ internal data suggests that serving just four more cars each day at each outlet would lead to a 1 percent increase in same-store sales, a sign that little changes can make a big difference.)

“We’ve noticed a direct correlation between speed and satisfaction,” Bower says. “The drive-thru was a place where we were falling down, but I’m happy to say we’ve made huge improvements.”

In June, a focus group completed for QSR reminded all that speed and accuracy remain the top drive-thru consumer demands, giving credence to the fact that “the basics” should stand paramount.

While quick-service brands such as Popeyes have made mastering the basics a principal objective, customers have expressed a desire for even more—faster service, more accurate order fulfillment, better technology, and more personable employees among their chief rallying cries.

Customers tell us that the status quo is not OK anymore. They want a drive-thru experience that is positive and personal.”

QSR’s recent Drive Thru-Experience Study showed negative perceptions of the drive-thru experience continuing to cloud the consumer mindset, opening up an opportunity for quick-service restaurants to impress customers with extras big and small, simple and stylish, practical and personal.

“Customers tell us that the status quo is not OK anymore. They want a drive-thru experience that is positive and personal,” Del Taco’s director of operations Kevin Pope says.
With such insights in hand, a number of quick-service brands are getting even more involved, dedicating increased time, attention, and innovation to their drive-thru business to heighten customer satisfaction and deliver an experience that transcends both traditional expectations and the competition.

Despite its gains, Popeyes’ corporate team and its operators know more work remains. In fact, Popeyes termed its systemwide program Service with Speed precisely because they wanted service to improve alongside speed. Although the latter has advanced, Popeyes’ focus moving forward will be on providing a more customer-friendly experience with the improved speed.

These types of improvement are occurring throughout the industry, as quick-serve restaurants see the drive thru as a business opportunity primed for growth, particularly as time-starved customers seek the convenience drive thrus offer.

But improved service need not be super flashy or expensive.

Take Chick-fil-A, a routine gold-medalist in drive-thru studies. The Atlanta-based chicken purveyor focuses more on substance than glam, including the customer-favorite of drive-thru lane trashcans. Consider as well Chicago’s Portillo’s restaurants, whose drive-thru staff often distributes dog biscuits to canine-carrying cars.


Rest of article continues


Posted by staff at 09:53 AM

January 22, 2009

POS news - Subway Announces new system

Subway to Implement Restaurant POS across 30,000 Global Locations. SUBWAY announces a partnership with Torex to implement its Quick Service Restaurant POS solution globally. Upon completion of the roll out the SUBWAY chain…as posted on gokiosk.net

Posted by staff at 10:25 AM

June 17, 2008

QSR Study - Consumer Drive-Thru Preferences

drivethru.jpgConsumers know what they want from a drive-thru experience. Is the industry listening? Nice research piece. Include downloadable case study pdf.

When it’s right, you can feel it. The greeting is immediate, pleasant, and clear. Menu choices are easy to choose from and the order is verified on screen, by voice, or both. The food is waiting for you at the window. Payment is exchanged, condiments are offered, and the food passed through the window, all with an inviting smile and pleasant attitude. It could be relief or contentment or outright joy but when the drive-thru experience is right, you feel it.

What we know is that feeling needs to be replicated hundreds of times a day. The 1,000 consumers participating in the 2007 Drive-Thru Consumer Survey reported visiting drive-thrus an average of 5.7 times over a 60-day period. More than one-third use a drive-thru more than six times over 60 days. Forty-five percent prefer the drive-thru over the dining room. Jack In The Box says that more than two-thirds of its orders are passed through its drive-thru windows.

What we know is that satisfaction is desired by the consumer. Fifteen percent of respondents said they have stopped going to a quick-serve because of one bad experience. Another 33 percent are pushed away by several bad experiences. With so many consumers using the drive-thru and demanding an uncompromising experience, building a better drive-thru has become an industry-wide obsession.

At the most basic level, the order has to be right. More consumers (80 percent) rated order accuracy as important to a good drive-thru experience than any other factor. Accuracy outranks speed any way the question is posed. Seventy-two percent said they would choose a restaurant with better quality food over a fast drive-thru, and 68 percent said they want the order to be accurate over fast. On the other end, only 21 percent said their biggest concern was speed and a low 8 percent said speed was more important than accuracy.

Even though the percentage of respondents satisfied with order accuracy (73 percent) is less than the number who feel it is important, its value is not lost on the industry. About half of all the chains surveyed said preparation was the top priority, with the other half placing equal weight on preparation and speed.

“Our goal is to always provide the highest- quality food and the fastest service around,” says KFC spokesperson Rick Maynard. “Each is equally important, and we don’t compromise on either.”

“Taste always comes first,” says Brian Dixon, vice president of marketing for Taco John’s. “We won’t compromise quality but we have had to look at added equipment and some ingredient changes in order to improve cooking or holding [time] to facilitate speed.”

After order accuracy, 74 percent of consumers said an easy-to-read menuboard was important to them. The percentage of those satisfied with the boards they saw is lagging somewhat (70 percent) but the industry is responding.

Of the 16 chains QSR surveyed, 14 report having made changes to their menuboards over the past year. Changes include using more visual representations, repositioning featured items, standardizing value meal positioning and numbering systemwide, expanding combo offerings, and redesigning from the ground up. With only 45 percent of respondents reporting that they know what they want before reaching the menuboard, the potential is obvious.

After seeing the chain ranked low several years in the QSR Consumer Drive-Thru Performance Study, Dairy Queen COO Chuck Chapman says his chain decided to target its menuboards in an effort to improve. With cooperative input from the home office, franchisees, and branding consultancy Tesser, Dairy Queen redesigned its boards away from a text-driven model to a picture and numbers model. Rollout began in May and some 25 percent of stores feature the new boards. Chapman says sales of à la carte items have decreased and sales of combos, specialty beverages, and DQ’s royal treat line—all more profitable items—have increased. More important, the new images on the boards have “let people know we’re in the food business,” Chapman says.

Bojangles’ will complete its new menuboard rollout to company stores this month and has the support of a majority of franchisees as well. Designed and manufactured by the Howard Menu Board Company and SynQ Solutions, Senior Vice President of Marketing Randy Poindexter says the new boards improve readability, improve brand perception and consistency across the system, use visuals to drive purchases, provide more merchandising opportunities, eliminate menu slats and digit carriers, and feature easy-to-change panels and improved hardware.

To prove how important the menuboard is, 44 percent of consumer respondents say they are influenced by specials on the menuboard.

A lot of the feeling that comes from a good drive-thru experience depends on what Noah Griggs, executive vice president of training for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, calls the “X Factor”—courtesy. Just under accuracy and an easy-to-read menuboard, 71 percent of respondents said customer service is important to them, while 63 percent said they were satisfied with their experience. But there is still room for improvement.

What's Important to Consumers Industry Response
80% Order Accuracy 100% Speed of Service
74% Easy-to-read Menuboard 88% Order Accuracy
71% Customer Service 81% Menuboard Readability
70% Speed of Service 81% Customer Service
69% Speaker Communication 81% Credit/Debit Card Acceptance
66% Short Car Lines 75% Length of the Wait
61% Order-Confirmation Board 69% Speaker Communication
61% Good Overall Appearance 69% Hours of Service
60% Menu Variety 56% Menu Variety
56% Convenient Hours 31% Wireless Payment Options
45% Good Drive-Thru Appearance 19% Wireless Ordering
34% Credit/Debit Card Acceptance

Read rest of article

Download study

Posted by staff at 01:07 PM

August 23, 2005

The Food May Be Fast, But Kiosk Adoption Slow

QSR-kiosk-BANNER.jpgIt wasnt that long ago that self-service kiosks werent an option at supermarkets and airports, but acceptance by consumers has since come relatively quickly. You cant find an airline that doesnt offer a self-service kiosk check-in, and a recent study found that up to 50 percent of shoppers use self-checkout kiosk at grocery stores when given the option.

The self-service revolution has come more slowly, however, to the fast food industry. Its not that the technology doesnt exist, or that consumers arent impressed with existing self-service options. Dozens of trials, featuring machinery that takes your order, counts your money and asks you to Super-Size, is available to fast-food corporations and franchisees.

The McDonalds units (pictured in our cover photograph and manufactured/designed by Kiosk Information Systems) have been in trial deployment in several states since 2003. They've provided shorter wait times, lower labor costs, higher check averages and ROI estimates of 4-6 months. Still, they have not been globally deployed. Why?

Read Complete Article on KioskCom.com

Posted by keefner at 04:07 PM

March 11, 2005

QSRs and Restuarant

RoboServer Systems Begins Marketing Self-Serve Systems for Rollout to Major Fast-Food Chains

AmeriResource Technologies, Inc. (OTC BB:AMRE.OB - News) announces that its subsidiary, RoboServer Systems Corp., developer of the revolutionary Self-Serve Machine that enables fast-food customers to process their own orders on a touch-screen kiosk, has begun the marketing processes of its Self-Serve Machine for rollout to major quick-service restaurant chains.

RoboServer''s flash video presentation of the Self-Serve Machine in action can be viewed by clicking the following link: http://www.roboservercorp.com/presentation.shtml

"Now that we have unveiled our Self-Serve Machine, we have begun the marketing process to national and regional quick-service restaurant chains for rollout and deployment of our Systems on an enterprise level," noted Delmar Janovec, RoboServer''s CEO.

Janovec added, "We are beginning to tap into a market that we see as immeasurable -- the Top 50 quick-service restaurant chains, as reported by QSR Magazine, represent more than 120,000 restaurants doing an estimated $100,000,000,000 in annual business."

The Company has begun test marketing processes and has met with major chain management, as well as franchise contacts and Sales Distributors, for the potential deployment of its systems. With the acceptance of self-serve in other applications such as ATMs and pay-at-the-pump gas stations, Americans have become accustomed to self-serve and self-checkout and are now demanding self-serve machines in fast-food and quick services restaurants.

"Although the enterprise-level sales and marketing process is lengthy, we feel that in the next couple of years we will see an industry shift where almost every fast-food restaurant in the country will be using self-serve machines, as compared to a very small percentage today. This translates to a tremendous opportunity for RoboServer to deploy our machine and services," concluded Janovec.

To see QSR Magazine''s ranking of the Top 50 Chains by system wide sales, please visit http://www.qsrmagazine.com/qsr50/2004/charts/top50.html.

For sales, licensing, and reseller information, please contact RoboServer''s sales department at (866) 893-0229 or sales@RoboServerCorp.com.

More company information is available at www.RoboServerCorp.com. Investors and media can receive a free investor kit for RoboServer Systems Corp. by contacting Investor Relations at investors@roboservercorp.com or (866) 893-0229.

ABOUT ROBOSERVER SYSTEMS
RoboServer Systems has developed and deployed Point of Sale and Self-Serve software technology for the restaurant industry for more than three years.

The Company''s key growth product suite is the RoboServer Self-Serve System -- a software and hardware terminal that allows fast-food customers to order and purchase their own food and beverages, reducing the costly expense of employee services and reducing customer order time.

Similar technology has been proven and deployed in large grocery and hardware chains throughout the United States because Self-Serve technology reduces costs for businesses, and reduces ordering time for customers. Self-Serve technology is an industry-changing technology that will become significantly more prevalent in fast-food over the next few years. Self-serve technology is a strong growth industry that demonstrates an easily quantifiable return on investment to client restaurants, even in soft economies.

The information contained in this press release may include forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements usually contain the words "estimate," "anticipate," "believe," "expect," or similar expressions that involve risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties include the Company''s uncertain profitability, need for significant capital, uncertainty concerning market acceptance of its products, competition, limited service and manufacturing facilities, dependence on technological developments and protection of its intellectual property. The Company''s actual results could differ materially from those discussed herein. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences are discussed more fully in the "Risk Factors," "Management''s Discussion and Analysis or Plan of Operation" and other sections of the Company''s Form 10-KSB and other publicly available information regarding the Company on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company will provide you with copies of this information upon request.

Contact:
AmeriResource Technologies Inc.
Delmar Janovec at (702) 214-4249
ARESCEO1@cs.com
http://www.ameriresourcetechnologies.com

Investor Relations
Sussex Avenue Partners, LLC
John Hicks at (760) 918-5592
Toll-Free: (866) 878-7739
john@sussexavenuepartners.com

RoboServer Systems Corp.
Investor Relations
(866) 893-0229
investors@roboservercorp.com
http://www.RoboServerCorp.com

Posted by Craig at 08:41 PM

February 23, 2005

QSR Trends

Quick-Serve Restaurants Likely To Install Kiosks

Source: ePaynews.com
02-18-2005

By 2007, US consumers will make USD 330 billion in self-service transactions, up from USD 70 billion in 2003, according to IHL Consulting, and fast-food restaurants are seen as a future self-service market. Food-dispensing kiosks are not yet widely used at the 115,000 fast-food restaurants in the US, but in the next two years quick-serve restaurants are predicted to invest in automating part of their service delivery. Touch-screen kiosks have already been developed to allow QSR customers to order food and to pay with a credit card, bills or coins, before picking up the order at the counter.

Restaurants deploying food-ordering self-service kiosks at their premises typically use an in-built tool to manage the systems food menu either from the same site, or from a remote office. Retail self-service is becoming routine for US consumers, with Kroger reporting 40 per cent of its transactions to be processed at self-checkouts and at Home Depot, this total is 39 per cent, or two out of every five transactions. For the fast-food industry, kiosks can increase revenue by boosting sales at peak hours, facilitating cross- and up-selling opportunities and improving customer service while reducing labor costs.

Posted by Craig at 04:41 PM

August 16, 2004

McDonalds & Music

McDonald's fast-food chain said global sales climbed 6.4 percent last month, a 15th straight monthly increase, spurred by free music downloads in the United States.

BLOOMBERG NEWS

McDonald's fast-food chain said global sales climbed 6.4 percent last month, a 15th straight monthly increase, spurred by free music downloads in the United States.

Sales at U.S. restaurants open at least 13 months rose 7.8 percent compared with a year earlier, Oak Brook, Ill.- based McDonald's said in a statement. Sales increased 2.1 percent in Europe and 8.3 percent in a region encompassing Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

Chief executive Charlie Bell, 43, extended U.S. sales gains by offering free downloads of songs such as "The Reason" by Hoobastank with the purchase of a Big Mac Extra Value meal.

McDonald's added the Salads Plus menu in Europe earlier this year to replicate the chain's success in the United States with food other than hamburgers.

Shares of McDonald's fell 18 cents to $26.16 at the close of New York Stock Exchange trading. They had risen 6.1 percent this year.

Systemwide sales increased 11 percent worldwide last month, or 7.2 percent excluding the benefit of currency exchanges.

Renovations and the addition of late-night hours at some restaurants also helped U.S. sales, analyst Howard Penney of Arlington, Va.-based Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. wrote in a report Friday. He has an "outperform" rating on McDonald's shares.

Comparable- store sales in the year's first seven months rose 8.2 percent worldwide, 11 percent in the United States and 3.7 percent in Europe.

The company expects its Summer Olympics advertising to boost sales this month, Bell said in the statement.

McDonald's serves 47 million customers in more than 100 countries each day. The company has more than 30,000 restaurants, including about 13,000 in the United States.

Bell was promoted from chief operating officer after the death of chief executive James Cantalupo on April 19.
AP PHOTO - McDonald's, which has seen growth for the 15th straight month, has more than 30,000 stores world wide.
August 10, 2004

Chain Leader

Posted by Craig at 03:00 PM

July 06, 2004

Wrap up: National Restaurant Association

SmartBrief presents some of the top industry trends both from the Show floor and in recent news stories, including design and decor, technology and franchising.

Wrap up: National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show (Part I)



As the economy gains steam, so -- it appears -- does the foodservice industry. Eager for profit-building and cost-cutting ideas and solutions, more than 73,300 restaurant professionals converged on Chicago's McCormick Place last month for the 85th Annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. More than 2,060 exhibiting companies were on hand to unveil the industry's latest trends, innovations and products.

In the first part of this two-part Special Report, SmartBrief presents some of the top industry trends both from the Show floor and in recent news stories, including design and decor, technology and franchising. Part II in this series will run on Thursday, June 24, and address operations, food and beverage trends and food safety.

At-A-Glance




Association Coverage: The Show
As the industry's premier trend-watching event, the 2004 Show featured exhibitor products and services that covered the hottest trends in the business, including new food and beverage offerings, technology innovations and ways to improve restaurant efficiency.

Pavilion scene: New this year was the EDGE Pavilion, which showcased exhibitors with the latest products and services related to design, dcor and furnishings. The Technology Pavilion featured Wi-Fi, and the Franchise Pavilion was four times its original size.

Exhibitors: More than 2,060 exhibitors, across more than 860 categories, attended the Show.

New Products: The Hot New Products Guide featured the newest offerings and innovations.

Industry magazine's wrap-up: QSR Magazine offers an overview of the Show. QSR Magazine (6/1)


Design & Decor




Association coverage: EDGE Pavilion puts fashion on display
Cast-aluminum ceiling light fixtures, hand-painted tables and artificial palm trees were among the Show items on display for operators looking to jazz up their decor. "The 2004 Show is the definitive place in which to find new solutions, explore new opportunities and discuss trends in the ever-evolving marketplace of design and dcor," says National Restaurant Association Convention Chairman Dick Rivera.

Designing around the new smoking laws
Some restaurants and bars in cities with tough smoking bans have gone the extra mile to create spaces where patrons can smoke and still experience the hospitality of the establishment. One New York bar co-branded with a tobacco shop, while others are designing inviting outdoor spaces shielded by shrubbery, or creating adjacent smoking "lounges" by renting stretch limos to keep patrons warm during mid-meal smoke breaks. SLAMMED (6/2004)

Association coverage: The right lighting can set the mood
Restaurants often turn to lighting to create an extra cozy atmosphere, but they can be messy and create excess smoke. Creative twists on candles, such as smokeless tea lights and scented battery-operated "candles," along with high-end hand-blown glass oil lamps were on display at the Show.

Association coverage: Entertainment as part of the decor
Restaurants and bars are adding video games and other entertainment options to their design scheme, giving customers a reason to stay after their meal and entertaining children while families wait for tables.

Find suppliers in furniture, furnishings and decoration
Click here for a list of Show exhibitors in these categories.


Exhibitor Klondike Kidstuff Inc., with its customized 3-D
sculptures and creations, was part of the NRA Show's new
EDGE Design Pavilion. (Photo: NRA)


Buy audiotapes from NRA Show seminars on Design Trends 2004 and Foodservice Planning: Changing the Old Rules!


Technology




2004 Restaurant Show a hot spot for tech companies
Several technology companies seeking to expand their presence in restaurants displayed their products at the National Restaurant Association Show. Motorola demonstrated two-way radios for servers to maintain contact with kitchen staff, while a device from Sharp allows managers to track the performance of individual menu items and promotions. "In the next five years you are going to see technology transform the dining business," said a Darden Restaurants spokesman. Reuters (5/25)

Biometric technology helps small-business owners
Ohio restaurant Aladdin's Eatery says the cost of using fingerprint terminals for employees, $11,000 for four terminals and fingerprint pads, is "worth every penny." The technology requires employees to log in using their fingerprints, which are used to clock in and place orders and replaces the need for passwords and punch cards. The Lansing State Journal (Mich.)/Knight Ridder (6/9)

Providing a free Wi-Fi hot spot may be worth the expense
Estimates range from $100 to more than $5,000 to turn a restaurant into a Wi-Fi hot spot, but some are finding that increased sales during down times have more than offset the costs. Starbucks and other chains charge customers for access, and it is unclear whether there is significant profit in this model. Cost of access may be the determining factor in whether a traveling business person decides to turn a restaurant table into his or her temporary office. SLAMMED (6/2004)

Wireless technology is changing the face of WD business
Wireless technology has been used by busy business people for years to help them conduct work when they are away from the office. But now the reliability and availability of the technology is changing the way some wholesale distribution companies are able to conduct business. The Boston Globe (6/6)

How to make Wi-Fi pay
Paid Wi-Fi hot spots may face increasing competition from free access points, causing purveyors of paid hot spots to question how to make the technology profitable. Analysts say it won't become profitable unless providers change their business models wholesale. Wired (6/8)

Association coverage: The president of Layer 1 Wireless, which provided free Wi-Fi access on the Show floor, explains the dilemma restaurants face in charging for Wi-Fi. Other wireless technologies at the Show include new pagers from JTECH and the Tattle Tale portable alarm.

Free Wi-Fi hot spots eat into fee-based hot spot profits
The growth of free Wi-Fi hot spots in parks, cafes and other locations has thrown a wrench into the business plans of Wi-Fi providers trying to make money from the technology. Perhaps the biggest casualty yet of this trend was heavily backed Wi-Fi provider Cometa Networks, which announced last month it was suspending operations. The New York Times (free registration) (6/7)

Find suppliers in Technology & Entertainment
Click here for a list of Show exhibitors in these categories.

Buy audiotapes from the Show about technology issues. Among the available tapes are sessions on "Leveraging Frequent Customers through New Technologies" and "Leveraging Your Point-of-Sale System."


Franchising




Association Show provides exposure for pizza franchises
The 2004 Show featured pizza heavyweights such as Little Caesars and Papa John's, as well as smaller enterprises such as Buck's Pizza and Pizza Inn. While the Show's large attendance introduces the companies to many potential franchisees, Papa John's John Campbell says his company is exhibiting mainly to enhance brand awareness. PizzaMarketplace (5/25)

Franchise ownership opens up for minorities
As home ownership increases, more minorities are able to obtain loans to become franchisees, and some franchises are targeting minority owners for expansions. One franchise association executive said the growing wealth of the black and Hispanic populations make them a prime target for potential franchisees. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (5/4)

Burger King hopes new franchisee brings some "Magic"
Burger King has enlisted Magic Johnson Enterprises to take over control of 30 existing restaurants. The eponymous basketball star has invested in T.G.I. Friday's, Starbucks and Loews Cineplex since leaving professional basketball. The Miami Herald (free registration) (6/8), Journal and Constitution (Atlanta) (free registration) (6/7)

Franchising opportunities at the Show
Click here to read about the offerings at this year's Franchise Pavilion.


NRA Resources




Relive the Show in pictures
Click here to view pictures from the Show.

It's not too early to think about the 2005 Show
Plans for the 2005 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show are underway. The Show will be held May 21 to 24 in Chicago. Sign up to receive news updates on next year's Show, and click here for information on exhibiting.

Link

Posted by Craig at 02:05 PM

June 21, 2004

McDonalds Kiosks

McDonald's making fast-food faster?

McDonald's making fast-food faster?

No. 1 burger chain tests self-serve kiosks in effort to improve service, lift revenue per customer.
June 18, 2004: 4:44 PM EDT


CHICAGO (Reuters) - McDonald's has eliminated the middle man standing between the fast food lover and his burger, with an advanced test of technology that promises to shorten lines and give consumers more control over ordering.

Outside Chicago in St. Charles, Illinois, longtime McDonald's Corp. (MCD: up $0.20 to $26.92, Research, Estimates) franchisee John Lardas has reconfigured his restaurant, replacing three ordering stations manned by employees at the front counter with one traditional station and four stand-alone computers, or kiosks.

"You see no lines because people are spreading themselves out," said Lardas, who estimates that 70 percent of customers now opt to use the technology.

McDonald's, which only recently admitted its service problems and vowed to fix them, is ironing the kinks out of technology some believe will transform fast food the way similar systems have revolutionized bank transactions and airport check-ins.

Each kiosk allows a customer to place an order directly with the kitchen, using a touch screen with pictures of food, English or Spanish text and verbal prompts.

Have a Big Mac the regular way with special sauce; customize it without cheese or pickles; or, if feeling particularly Atkins-friendly, lose the bun.

"Order accuracy is a common complaint in the fast-food industry -- people getting the wrong order or with something missing," said Robert Sandelman, an industry consultant in Orange County, California. The issue remains a top consumer concern in his firm's yearly industry survey, along with food taste and restaurant cleanliness.

That's partly because staffing restaurants with well-trained employees willing to work for low wages remains an increasing challenge for fast-food operators who run on tight margins and have seen the price of commodities like beef move steadily higher.

Once perfected, the technology will likely lead to shorter wait times, labor cost savings, and ultimately, higher average checks, analysts said.

"It's about time and lines," said Harry Balzer, vice president with food market research firm NPD Group Inc. "We are looking for the easiest way to feed ourselves."

Five other U.S. McDonald's in the Denver area are operating self-ordering kiosks. An earlier phase of the test included stores in Raleigh, North Carolina. Meanwhile, overseas McDonald's is testing similar systems in France, Australia and Japan.

"The customer perception is that it's a better experience," said Christa Small, the McDonald's director heading the test. "It's the perception that you have control over the process."

Small declined to discuss when the Oak Brook, Illinois, company would make a decision about implementing kiosks on a permanent basis, or how much they cost.

But the competition is heating up. Privately held Burger King Corp., McDonald's largest hamburger-making rival, is also testing kiosks in a handful of stores. A representative for the Miami company declined to provide additional details.

Ordering kiosks have already found a permanent home in convenience stores such as WaWa, an East Coast chain that lets customers use them to order deli sandwiches. Many groceries use similar technology to let customers handle their own checkout.

Having a machine consistently remember if you want french fries with your sandwich, as the McDonald's kiosks do, can boost the value of a transaction by 10 to 20 percent, said Kate Delhagen, a Forrester Research analyst who has studied kiosk technology.

She estimates that installing stations in a typical restaurant costs between $10,000 to $20,000 for the hardware -- with software, training and maintenance an additional expense.

Within a few years, benefits will outweigh those costs, Delhagen said. For instance, before an order is sent to the kitchen at the St. Charles' McDonald's, the computer verifies that it's correct, providing a rolling total, so virtually nothing is lost in translation.

Inserting a bill or credit card into the machine completes the process, and in about a minute, a server appears with food and change.

In the kid-friendly Play Place at the rear of the St. Charles store, where there are two additional kiosks, the process is slightly different. There the customer takes a number after placing an order; soon Happy Meals are delivered directly to the table, eliminating the burden of watching children while standing in line.

Lardas said he's not worried about the loss of the personal touch; he hasn't reduced the number of employees in his store, just reassigned them to other tasks such as delivering food. And they are trained to assist if someone struggles with the technology.

Customers like Tom Schwagart, a 61-year-old grandfather visiting the McDonald's with his granddaughter, said he's been converted. "I like it because I don't like to stand in line," he said.


McDonald's aims to make fast food faster - Jun. 18, 2004

Posted by Craig at 02:13 PM

March 09, 2004

Kiosks make fast food faster

McDonald's Corp.'s new restaurant kiosks are part ATM, colorful as a video game and central to the chain's efforts to sell its food faster and fresher.

By Warren Moulds
Special to the Tribune
Published March 9, 2004

McDonald's Corp.'s new restaurant kiosks are part ATM, colorful as a video game and central to the chain's efforts to sell its food faster and fresher.

After tests in Denver and Raleigh, N.C., the kiosks have made their first Illinois appearance in St. Charles, at the McDonald's at Illinois Highway 64 and Smith Road near the Charlestowne Mall.

With four touch-screen devices mounted on the counters, customers entering the store can see right away that this place is different.

The touch screens display every item McDonald's offers, allowing customers to place their orders and pay at the terminal in a system that the restaurant chain hopes will deliver faster and more customized food.

Ken Koziol, vice president of worldwide restaurant innovation, expects it will lead to little or no waiting in line.

Early customer feedback indicates good results, restaurant manager Terry Polk said.

"Customers and employees really like it," Polk said. "It's really helped [speed up] my service, and customers like not having to wait in line."

There are two versions of kiosks: those mounted on front counters and stand-alone models in the restaurant's indoor playground area.

The playground kiosks are designed to let parents bring their children to the play area while they place orders.

For customers, the kiosks are simple. Under each screen are two slots, one for money and the other for a receipt that shows what was ordered, the cost and how much change should be returned.

Behind the counter is the new system's cooking apparatus: its automated "vertical grill," which seasons hamburgers as they cook between two conveyor belts, and a robotic arm that packages french fries.

All the pieces are designed to work together, with input from the kiosk setting the cooking process in motion.

"We call this the continuous cooking process," Koziol said. In developing it, the idea was to replace batch cooking, with its stops and starts and intermittent grill-cleaning routines.

In addition to delivering a "fresher product than batch cooking," he said, the new system should improve kitchen safety.

Koziol said that while the kiosk and kitchen environment will make production more efficient, it should not reduce restaurant staffing.

McDonald's officials said workers will deliver food and change and spend more time interacting with customers.

The St. Charles restaurant was chosen for the test because of its proximity to McDonald's Oak Brook headquarters and because of the restaurant's layout and volume of business.

"We have a long list of test criteria and we were looking for a typical store close to home so we could keep an eye on it," Koziol said.

Customers appear to be responding well, said Bridgman, pointing to two mothers standing in front of a touch screen ordering hamburgers and drinks for their kids in the restaurant's noisy indoor playground.


Chicago Tribune | Kiosks make fast food faster

Posted by Craig at 09:24 PM

November 10, 2003

Donato Food Corporation to Install Wincor Nixdorf's BEETLE /iPOS Systems at 170 Quick-Service Restaurants

Wincor Nixdorf Inc., today announced that Donato Food Corporation will install BEETLE(R) /iPOS point-of-sale (POS) systems in the company's 170 quick-service restaurants in Canada.

Donato Food Corporation to Install Wincor Nixdorf's BEETLE /iPOS Systems at 170 Quick-Service Restaurants; Rollout Continues Wincor Nixdorf's Leadership in Linux POS
Jump to first matched term

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov 10, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Wincor Nixdorf Inc., the global leader in open system solutions for the retail and banking industries, today announced that Donato Food Corporation will install BEETLE(R) /iPOS point-of-sale (POS) systems in the company's 170 quick-service restaurants in Canada.

Donato Food Corporation is implementing the BEETLE /iPOS with a 15" LCD screen and Celeron(R) processor in both of its restaurant brands, Made in Japan Teriyaki Experience and Mrs. Vanellis Fresh Italian Food. BEETLE /iPOS systems running ViewTouch software and the Linux operating system have already been installed in 40 stores, with the remainder of the rollout scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. The BEETLE /iPOS systems are being used for kitchen systems as well as POS in the restaurants. The solution features dual-screen functionality using the BEETLE /iPOS system's integrated touch screen combined with a 15" flat panel display for marketing to customers at the point of sale.

In addition to POS hardware, Wincor Nixdorf is providing Donato Food Corporation a wide range of services including installation, cabling, project management, and Advance Exchange support for overnight replacement of BEETLE /iPOS systems that require service.

"Wincor Nixdorf has more experience in Linux than any other POS hardware manufacturer, and they were able to provide the Linux support and integration services that we required," said Doug DeLeeuw, manager of Information Technology for Donato Food Corporation. "Wincor's Linux leadership was a key factor in Donato's selection of the BEETLE /iPOS."

"Donato Food Corporation had a strong vision for implementing Linux at the point of sale, and the BEETLE /iPOS provided a flexible, robust platform for their Linux applications," said Jeff Soisson, president of Wincor Nixdorf USA. "Donato Food Corporation is one of North America's leading quick-service restaurant companies, and Wincor Nixdorf is pleased to work with Donato in implementing their next-generation POS solution."

Wincor Nixdorf's pioneering work in Linux has helped propel the operating system to the forefront of retail point-of-sale, with implementations at leading retailers throughout North America, including Burlington Coat Factory, Hannaford Bros. Co., and Papa John's Pizza. The company's list of "firsts" in Linux POS includes:

-- First retail-hardened thin-client POS system - BEETLE /NetPOS

-- First Linux-ready POS system platform in production - the
BEETLE family

-- First thin client competency labs focused on Linux-based POS
systems

-- First POS vendor to offer a complete set of JavaPOS drivers
for Linux

About Donato Food Corporation

Donato Food Corporation, headquartered in Oakville, Ontario, was founded in 1981 to serve up great food, selection, service and value to consumers worldwide. Now a leader within the quick-service restaurant industry, the company operates two successful brands, Mrs. Vanellis Fresh Italian Food and Made in Japan Teriyaki Experience, through owner-operated franchises. Donato Food Corporation currently operates globally in seven countries, with a further eight countries under master licensees opening soon, totaling 15 countries worldwide, serving over 10 million customers annually. For more information about Donato Food Corporation and its brands, visit www.donatogroup.com.

About the BEETLE Family of POS Appliances

Wincor Nixdorf's BEETLE family is the most prolific open POS platform in the world. Highly versatile, the BEETLE addresses the complete spectrum of retail touch points, including thin-client POS terminals, lean-and thick-client POS systems, self-service kiosks, inquiry and service desk workstations, and mobile POS devices. BEETLEs are built upon a single, open technology platform -- the BEETLE One architecture -- that includes a common motherboard and Embedded Intel chipset technology, as well as a choice of Intel processors; industry-standard interfaces for retail peripherals; a wide range of storage, expansion and display options; and the most extensive operating system and peripheral device support in the industry. This provides mix-and-match flexibility between BEETLE models, simplifies service requirements, and guarantees a consistent, stable platform for next-generation POS solutions.

About Wincor Nixdorf

Worldwide, Wincor Nixdorf Inc. is one of the fastest growing providers of IT products and solutions for the retail and banking industries. Wincor Nixdorf's offerings include hardware, application software, professional services, and a complete range of multi-vendor service programs including on-site support, depot service, advanced exchange, and performance-guaranteed supplies procurement. Wincor Nixdorf is the world's third largest provider of POS systems and automated teller machines. Employing more than 4,600 people, Wincor Nixdorf operates in 70 countries with manufacturing plants in Germany and Singapore. North American headquarters are in Austin, Texas and Boston, Mass. For more information, visit www.wincor-nixdorf.com/usa.

BEETLE is a registered trademark of Wincor Nixdorf International GmbH. All other trademarks are the properties of their respective owners.

SOURCE: Wincor Nixdorf Inc.

Wincor Nixdorf Inc., Austin
KK Walker, 512-252-5673
karen.walker@wincor-nixdorf.com
or
KetnerBarnes Inc.
Jeff Ketner or Catherine Stacy, 512-794-8876
jketner@ketnerbarnes.com
cstacy@ketnerbarnes.com

Posted by Craig at 02:29 PM

November 06, 2003

Biometric Timecards More Efficient

McDonald's Reduces Payroll Costs up to 22% with IR Recognition Systems Biometric HandReaders

HandPunch Eliminates Expensive "Buddy Punching"; Over 3,400 Employees at 85 Restaurants Have Clocked In and Out Biometrically


IR Recognition Systems, the biometric component of Ingersoll-Rand's (IR) Security & Safety Group's Electronic Access Control Division (EACD), today announced that 85 McDonald's restaurants are cutting payroll costs by up to 22 percent annually after incorporating IR Recognition Systems' biometric HandPunch biometric terminals to record time and attendance. The HandPunch terminal eliminates expenses associated with employee badges and fraud caused by buddy punching. Over 3,400 employees at 85 McDonald's restaurants in Venezuela have been enrolled with the HandPunch over the past four years. On average, the system generates over 7,500 transactions each day resulting in over 2.5 million "punches" annually.

"McDonald's moved to biometrics because they wanted to verify that the employee clocking in was really that person," says Jose Ramon Casal of Caracas-based Electronica Quantum, which installed the systems. "Students make up about 90 percent of the McDonald's workforce in Venezuela. They were frequently punching one another in to cover for exams or other school-related events.

"A card only verifies a card," adds Casal. "We have used finger scanning for other applications, but we believe that hand geometry is more effective and produces fewer errors when there are larger employee populations. With hand geometry, a larger area is scanned than with finger scans and the template is updated after every scan so it remains current."

Instead of filling out or punching timecards, employees simply place their hands on the HandPunch. It automatically takes a three-dimensional reading of the size and shape of the employee's hand and verifies the user's identity in less than one second.

"McDonald's worldwide success has been built on being fast, convenient and affordable. These are the same key factors that have made our HandReaders the most widely used biometric in the industry. That's why they choose HandReaders over other biometrics," reports Bill Spence of IR Recognition Systems. "With major fast food retailers such as McDonald's realizing such tremendous cost savings by using our HandReaders, others are soon to follow."

Supervisors at each franchise using the HandPunch terminals authorize and verify employee time and overtime on a computer located at the store. The hours are then sent to a central payroll processing center via a telephone line. The supervisors themselves also use the HandPunch to clock in and out.

"Most supervisors at McDonald's are promoted from within and many find it difficult to impose rules and restrictions on their fellow workers," Casal explains. "The HandPunch ensures that everyone is treated the same and fairly. McDonald's employees are satisfied with the HandReaders because their payroll information is processed quickly and without mistakes. They receive regular reports with information about their time and attendance."

Language is not an issue because the software is in Spanish and the HandReaders accommodate several languages.

Hand geometry technology is the most commonly used technology for time and attendance and access control, according to Frost and Sullivan's "World Biometrics Report 2002."

About Electronica Quantum

Electronica Quantum, a Caracas, Venezuela-based systems integrator, has offered security and time-and-attendance solutions to customers in Latin America since 1983. The company offers a wide variety of technologies to its customers, including access control, CCTV, intercom and fire safety systems, time and attendance solutions, and explosives and drug detection services. About 20 percent of Electronica Quantum's business is in time and attendance solutions, while security comprises the other 80 percent. The company provides turnkey solutions to its clients.

About IR Recognition Systems

With over 75,000 hand geometry units throughout the world reading millions of hands each day, IR Recognition Systems, founded in 1986, is the pioneer of hand recognition technology used in access control, time and attendance and identification applications. The company is the world sales leader of biometric verification devices and serves an international clientele from its headquarters in Campbell, Calif. The hand geometry website is www.handreader.com. Phone is 408-341-4100. Recognition Systems is the biometric component of Ingersoll-Rand Corporation's Security & Safety Group's Electronic Access Control Division. The Ingersoll-Rand website is www.irco.com.

PHOTO: For a high-resolution photograph of a HandPunch, go to www.brighamscully.com and click Photos/IR Recognition Systems.

Contacts


IR Recognition Systems
Bill Spence, 408-341-4100
bill_spence@irco.com
or
Brigham Scully
Tom Brigham, 818-716-9021
tbrigham@brighamscully.com



Posted by Craig at 08:44 PM

Wi-Fi at new McCafe

First McCafe Set To Open Tomorrow

story link

2003-11-05]
"Going to McDonald's used to be a simple matter of ordering a number 3 combo with a Coke. Now you have dozens of coffees to choose from, and all of these desserts."
These were the words a television reporter, motioning at a tray of baked goods, said on camera as he walked through the first McCafe set to open in the U.S.

No, this isn't exactly your father's McDonald's, though it is in an existing McDonald's store. Driving up to the unit in Raleigh, North Carolina, one is struck by the elegance of the exterior. Walk inside, and you wonder if this can really be a McDonald's. To one side is the traditional McDonald's counter with the traditional McDonald's menu; in a separate alcove is the coffeehouse counter, complete with baristas, fancy coffee drinks, and a dizzying array of pastries, sandwiches, and cakes. The decor is woody and upscaledare we say beautifuland wi-fi access is available.

McCafe is a concept born in Australia, and it has been a hit both there and in New Zealand. Now the company wants to duplicate that success in the U.S.

Thus they decided to open the first unit at the store of franchisee Carol Martin and her son, Buck, who, according to the company, run a top-notch operation. (McDonald's actually opened a McCafe in Chicago in 2001 but closed it after a short time due to building construction.)

If the food and coffee served at a media reception the day before grand opening are any indication, both are quite goodand inexpensive. A large latte, for instance, sells for just $2.50. It is, as company literature says, "a coffeehouse without a superiority complex."

Why McCafe? According to Mats Lederhausen, president of the business development group at McDonald's Corp., the concept is an actual extension and growth of the McDonald's brand. That is, it falls under the rubric of the Golden Arches in a way that partner brands like Chipotle do not.

Several more units are slated to open in the Raleigh market, as well as a couple in the Bay Area, in the next few months. When QSR told Buck Martin we'd be anxious to see how sales went, he responded the only way he really could.

"So," he said, "will we."

Posted by Craig at 08:38 PM

October 27, 2003

Fast Food and QSRs

ParTech, Inc., Quick Kiosk Partner to Offer Pioneering Self-Service Solutions for Fast-Food Market

October 27, 2003 09:03

ParTech, Inc., Quick Kiosk Partner to Offer Pioneering Self-Service Solutions for Fast-Food Market

New Strategic Partnership Agreement between Point-of-Sale and Self-Service Technology Leaders Will Revolutionize the Quick Service Restaurant Experience

LONG BEACH, Calif., Oct 27, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- ParTech, Inc., a subsidiary of PAR Technology Corporation (NYSE:PTC), and a leading provider of software, hardware and service solutions to the hospitality and retail industries, and Quick Kiosk, A Kinetics Company LLC, a leading provider of self-service solutions to the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry, today announced they have formed a strategic partnership. The announcement of the partnership was made at this year's Food Service Technology Conference at the Long Beach, California, Convention Center.

Under this agreement Quick Kiosk and ParTech will work cooperatively to become an industry-leading provider of self-service solutions for the QSR and entertainment markets, possibly expanding in the future to other vertical markets.

"We are thrilled to ally ourselves with the most dominant player in the QSR point-of-sale (POS) market," said Todd Liebman, president of Quick Kiosk. "The potential of this type of strategic alliance is truly limitless. By combining our strengths, we can offer a product that will not only fulfill the needs of today's quick-service franchisees, as well as other hospitality and leisure markets, and their customers, but help anticipate future changes in those needs and meet them expeditiously and effectively."

"This partnership further connects ParTech with its core customers (restaurants, movie theatres, cruise lines, commercial banks, recreation sites) and their hospitality technology requirements," said Greg Cortese, CEO & president of ParTech, Inc. "Quick Kiosk's presence in the hospitality marketplace is a key method to further introduce combined (PAR/Quick Kiosk) solutions to other transaction based markets and showcase the superior quality of the software, hardware, and services of both Quick Kiosk and ParTech."

Self-service QSR ordering kiosks are one of the newest and most intriguing uses of self-service technology, and for the small number of owner/operators who now use them, the results have easily exceeded expectations. Self-service helps increase the average total receipt, increases repeat business, gets orders correctly every time, improves point-of-purchase merchandising and increases productivity.

PAR has provided integrated solutions to the restaurant, movie theatre, cruise line and recreation industries for over 25 years. Its POS management technology integrates both software applications and PAR's Pentium-based hardware platform. This hospitality management system can host fixed, as well as wireless, order-entry terminals, may include video monitors and/or third-party-supplied peripherals networked via an Ethernet local area network (LAN) and is accessible to enterprise-wide network configurations. PAR also provides extensive systems integration and professional service capabilities to design, tailor and implement solutions that enable its customers to manage, from a central location, all aspects of data collection and processing for single or multiple site enterprises.

As a subsidiary of Kinetics, Inc., Quick Kiosk will be able to utilize the expertise of the company that pioneered the modern airline self-service era. Kinetics now provides self-service technologies to 10 major North American airlines that offer self-service check-in services to their passengers, representing more than two-thirds of the total market.

Quick Kiosk has already introduced its self-ordering kiosks at approximately 50 McDonald's franchises in 15 metropolitan areas of the United States. The terminals allow McDonald's customers to self-service order at freestanding or countertop kiosks, using either credit card, debit card or cash for payment. They also allow for quick and easy ordering, with a suite of multi-media capabilities, including audio and animations. Customers can easily modify their orders to suit their personal preferences.

Although Quick Kiosk's current sales have been directed primarily at McDonald's franchises, the new strategic partnership agreement will open a vast new array of potential customers that could benefit from self-service technology.

ABOUT PAR TECHNOLOGY

PAR Technology Corporation is a leading provider of professional services and enterprise business intelligence software. PAR develops, markets and supports hardware and software products that improve the ability of business professionals to make timely, fact-based business decisions. PAR has been a leader in providing computer-based system design and engineering services to the Department of Defense and Federal Government Agencies. The Company is the world's largest supplier of Point-of-Sale systems to the quick service restaurant market with over 35,000 systems installed in over 95 countries. PAR Technology Corporation's stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol PTC. More information can be found on the Company's website at www.partech.com.

ABOUT QUICK KIOSK

Framingham, Mass.-based Quick Kiosk, A Kinetics Company LLC, is a leading provider of innovative self-service solutions to the Quick Service Restaurant industry, using the time-tested hardware and innovative enterprise and e-commerce technology developed both by Quick Kiosk and Kinetics to create a state-of-the-art turnkey solution for any restaurant that wants to take advantage of the myriad benefits of self service. For more information, visit www.quickkiosk.com or www.kineticsusa.com.

SOURCE: Quick Kiosk, A Kinetics Company LLC

Quick Kiosk, a Kinetics Company LLC
Jim Brown, 407-333-4100, Ext. 142
or
PAR Technology Corp.
Chris Byrnes, 315-738-0600

Posted by Craig at 02:44 PM

October 10, 2003

McD franchisee in Colorado Experiment

McDonalds in Colorado Springs employing several innovative ways to provide more efficient customer service including internet kiosks.

McD franchisee in Colo. routing orders through call center
SunTimes Article


October 9, 2003

BY SANDRA GUY Business Reporter

A McDonald's restaurant operator in Colorado is funneling customers' orders through a telephone call center to improve service speed and accuracy.

Here's how it works: Customers at six McDonald's restaurants in Colorado Springs, Colo., call in their orders on telephones sitting on each table.

The employees at the call center electronically relay the orders, as well as orders made at the drive-through, to the appropriate restaurant's kitchen. The orders appear on a screen in the kitchen, and identify the table or car where the order originated.

Inside the restaurants, McDonald's employees take the orders to the tables and collect payment. Customers at the drive-through pay for their orders and pick them up as they always have.

A seventh McDonald's restaurant, this one in Brainerd, Minn., recently set up the high-speed data line necessary to run its customer orders through the Colorado Springs call center.

Though the call center employs as many as eight workers -- it reaches a peak during busy times -- the system halves the 35 to 40 cents in costs that a restaurant normally incurs to take a customer order at the counter, said Craig Tengler, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Exit 41, an Andover, Mass.-based firm that supplies the system's software.

The call-center workers are trained to urge customers to buy more, so an average order is 10 to 15 cents greater under the new system than an order taken at the counter, Tengler said Wednesday.

Corporate executives in Oak Brook are impressed enough by Colorado Springs franchisee Steve Bigari's idea to expand the call-center test to as many as four additional restaurants by early 2004, said McDonald's spokesman Bill Whitman.

"We see that it has some potential to help reduce customer wait time," Whitman said, declining to release numbers. "It also reduces order time."

Those are magic words to McDonald's, which has consistently ranked at the bottom of customer service surveys and consistently lagged in speed-of-service surveys. CEO Jim Cantalupo, who took over in January, has begun efforts to grade each restaurant's quality and hold the managers accountable.

Bigari could not be reached for comment, but Tengler said Bigari intends to expand the initiative to include cell phones. It's hoped that by early next year, customers will be able to call in orders on their cell phones, with those calls also being routed to the call center, Tengler said.

One possibility is to let a customer hit a number on his cell phone to relay his most frequent order, without having to say anything.

The Colorado Springs restaurants already have set up new drive-through services to speed order times and improve accuracy.

Digital cameras are set up at the drive-throughs to take a photo of each car. The photo is matched to the order that the driver made.

The restaurants also feature new Zoom-throughs.

The Zoom-through drive-throughs have no menu boards, so customers must know what they want. Customers place their order, swipe a credit card, bypass the drive-through line, and pick up their orders at a window separate from the normal drive-through pickup window.

Plans call for a Virtual Zoom-through sometime in the future, in which customers would call in their orders and the payment would be deducted from a prepaid McDonald's card.

The Colorado Springs restaurants also each have an Internet kiosk, and most tables have Internet access hookups.

Separately, McDonald's announced Wednesday it will provide its New York, New Jersey and Connecticut customers with literature and information on how to order their favorite McDonald's food and still stay on a low-fat, low-calorie or low-carbohydrate diet.

The program, to start in January, is part of McDonald's "Real Life Choices" initiative. It is being created in part by nutritionist and wellness coach Pamela Smith.

Posted by Craig at 05:31 PM