McDonald’s Tries 60-Second Drive-Thru Guarantee to Get You to Put Down the Burrito 

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 5 2014 6:41 PM

McDonald’s Tries 60-Second Drive-Thru Guarantee to Get You to Put Down the Burrito 

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McDonald's dream drive thru scenario, in China.

Photo by Guang Niu/Getty Images

Everything is not golden at the Golden Arches. McDonald’s isn’t microwaving money quite like it used to. The U.S., once the proud consumer of all things super sized, has been a “particularly challenging market for McDonald's, where the company said it has lost relevance with consumers,” according the Wall Street Journal. “The company has set up a so-called learning lab on the West Coast to better understand what consumers want.” That’s some serious soul searching for a company that really doesn’t want to hear that its customers might just want a Chipotle burrito instead.

In Florida this month, McDonald’s is testing out one theory for why it's “lost relevance:” You’re not getting your non-burrito fast enough. To solve that hypothetical problem, the fast food heavyweight has come up with an idea—the 60-second drive-thru lunch guarantee. Here’s the gist of the program from the Miami Herald:

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 limited time promotion will run Monday – Friday from noon to 1 p.m. through Aug. 29, in the drive-thru only, McDonalds said.
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While speed has never been a personal stumbling block when weighing the pros and cons of McDonald’s consumption, the drive-thru has apparently gotten sluggish. “In recent years, studies have shown that drive-thrus have gotten slower, at least partly because menus have expanded and it’s more difficult for restaurants to deliver speedy service,” Time reports. “The industry-wide average time at the drive-thru recently rose from 173 seconds to 181 seconds, researchers at QSR Magazine reported last fall.”

Will it work? If not, McD’s can try some of its other incubator ideas like allowing for greater “customization” of the menu. “Some markets are allowing customers to add jalapenos to any burger, for example,” the Journal reports. There’s always the McDonald’s Monopoly game. That was fun.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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