The Chain Gang

McDonald’s Instates Plan to Improve Drive-Through Inaccuracies

Worth the wait?
Worth the wait? Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

McDonald’s has recently taken the greasy fast-food dine-in experience to new heights, offering table service and luxury burgers, but 70 percent of the chain’s sales still happen at the drive-through. That’s a notorious weak spot, in terms of getting orders out fast and right. (Except for when drugs are involved, but that’s another story.)

But CEO Steve Easterbrook says not to worry, because the chain has just created a foolproof new system known as “Ask, Ask, Tell” that will drastically cut down on annoying mess-ups. The one trade-off: Expect it to slow down drive-through lines, where wait times are already at historic highs.

The poorly named “Ask, Ask, Tell” method consists of several steps meant to prevent order inaccuracies and make the drive-through generally more pleasant. Prerecorded greetings are gone (some locations even offer live video orders); bags are no longer supposed to come pre-folded (leaving them open allows customers to inspect contents); and workers triple-check the order by repeating it back after it’s placed, asking if it’s right again at the window, and then “reminding” the customer what’s in the bag when the food gets handed off.

One franchisee who’s been testing out “Ask, Ask, Tell” says it adds “a couple seconds,” but dismisses that as pretty inconsequential considering order accuracy is up “by two to three percentage points.” Even better, it creates a “little, quick dialog” with customers.


McDonald’s to Fix Drive-Through Experience