McDonald's to Roll Out New 'Dual-Point' Ordering System

McDonald's restaurant
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McDonald's (MCD) customers aren't as happy as they used to be, but the world's largest restaurant chain has a plan.

Facing a spike in customer complaints on employee friendliness, McDonald's is rolling out a new dual-point ordering system that will hopefully make the dine-in experience less chaotic than it is at the moment.

Diners, franchisees, and investors better hope so.

Grimace is in the House

Shares of McDonald's hit a new all-time high on Friday, but things aren't as rosy as the stock chart suggests. In October 2012 the chain posted a year-over-year decline in monthly sales at the individual store level, the first time since 2003 it reported negative monthly comparable sales.

McDonald's has been expanding its menu aggressively to offset diner boredom. Premium chicken sandwiches, restaurant-worthy salads, and premium coffee beverages give the fast food behemoth more than just burgers to woo diners.

However, all of the exotic additions could also be creating confusion and long waits for customers.

Having a McHeart-to-Heart

McDonald's executives invited franchisees to a webcast last month where it detailed that one in five of the customer complaints that were coming in were about unfriendly employees. According to The Wall Street Journal, executives also pointed out that the number of complaints singling out rude or unprofessional employees is growing.

It could be a training issue, but it could also be the complexity of the menu and the longer wait times for the hungry to get their food.

McDonald's is banking on a new system to get that right.

Your Number is Up

The new system at McDonald's will dish out orders by placing numbers on receipts. A lot of chains do this already, but McDonald's will have an overhead screen that flashes the order numbers that are ready. Instead of having customers hover around the register after they order, the new system frees them to sit or walk around the restaurant until their food is ready.

Perhaps more importantly, there will be a dedicated employee bringing the completed orders to the opposite end of the counter. The move will free the clutter around the registers, and the runner will be able to fulfill any requests for sugar packets or honey-mustard sauce containers instead of tripping up a cashier tending to a new order.

A more pleasant experience will naturally encourage more repeat visits. McDonald's needs that to happen, regardless of what its sky-high share price suggests.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends McDonald's. The Motley Fool owns shares of McDonald's. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.

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Greg Hamilton

Furthermore, why did I have to strip myself of privacy from AOL to comment?

Now I have to go bother them to delete my information, as per PIPEDA in Canada.

Do you folks think that _this_ is reasonable service as well?

April 26 2013 at 4:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Greg Hamilton

Excuse me? I thought it was bad enough when they made you park and wait for your meal in the drive-through while others that were IN LINE BEHIND YOU get served first, but I grugdingly concede that the auto line-up can get a bit long. A *bit* long.

But to have someone behind me get served first when I am in the restaurant? No. This is not a regular restaurant. It's fast food, and if their staff is up to snuff, they have the kitchen processing at a capacity that matches demand.

Perhaps for a special order, people could wait. But not for regular menu items.

Why should I pay full price to wait, while someone else gets their food immediately?

April 26 2013 at 4:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is nothing new about their "new ordering system". I have been in McD's that have numbered tickets and they ask for your name to identify the order(kinda dumb IMO)

April 16 2013 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Except for the overhead screen, the Portillo's fast food restaurant chain has always had that kind of ordering system. It works.

April 16 2013 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I live is a medium size town that has most of the fast food chains, also I know most of the franchise owners in town. I almost have to go to McDonalds because of grandkids. Service is usually very slow any time of day, drive through or window service. Employees are combative if there is a wait or a problem. Owners say it is the employee pool and type of job they can offer. I can drive three bocks to a Wendys that serves quickier and with a smile, and even a Sonic that smiles and seem happy to serve. Maybe McDonalds need to train the owners of the franchise to train and respect their employees. It is all from the same labor pool and about the same wage range.

April 16 2013 at 11:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

while acknowledging the need to respond to the economy, it's always a bit humorous ...McDonald's was being assailed for poor management prior to the recession, heralded for good management during the recession (when sales were up due to people on fast food budgets) and now 'in question'.

April 16 2013 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When I go into a Mcdonald's it's almost always because I'm on the road traveling and
my expectations are never high to begin with. Can't say as I've been let down.

April 16 2013 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

mcdonalds has some of the worst employees i have ever met. they rarely say thank you and i always feel they are in a hurry to get rid of you. the drive up is just as bad. no smiles, no thank you's. i don't know why people still eat there. i stopped 6 months ago.

April 16 2013 at 10:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the only item I have purchased at mcdonalds is an english muffin with JUST AN egg, do you know how difficult this has been to get this very simple order correct? I stopped ordering from the car, then I stopped ordering from inside when the same error was made face to face, it was far to much aggrivation than it was worth............Example, egg w/ sausage, egg with bacon, sometimes with cheese, sometimes with just cheese, oh and these are all english speaking people.............

April 16 2013 at 8:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The place is a zoo no matter where it is.

April 16 2013 at 7:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply