Who would have guessed?

by on July 19, 2004 at 7:40 am in Economics | Permalink

Who would have guessed that when taking drive-thru orders at a McDonald’s it’s more efficient to send the order not 25ft into the restaurant but 900 miles away to a call-in center which then relays the order via computer to the workers inside the restaurant making the food. To avoid errors, the system also takes a digital picture of the customer to accompany each order (the picture is destroyed once the order is complete). That’s the way it’s done at a Cape Giradeau, MO restaurant and at some dozen others which send their orders to a call center in Colorado.

The system has cut order time by 30 seconds, reduced errors by 50 percent and saved on labor. Who would have guessed that this system would work? Not me and I’d wager not most people, but Steven Bigari, a McDonald’s franchisee gave it a shot – an interesting illustration of why a decentralized, capitalist system furthers innovation. The system is now spreading – at some McDonald’s customers can call their order in from their table, pay by credit card, and have their order “delivered” minutes later.

It’s from small improvements like this that a productivity miracle is born.

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