In ‘N Out vs McDonald’s

I have posted before about the differences between In ‘N Out and McDonald’s. Just last week one of the Principals in our company, Neil Reckon, noted a process example difference between the two companies I have seen but never thought about before he pointed it out.

When things get jammed up at McDonald’s, and most other fast food drive thru restaurants, they take your money and then have you pull ahead into a waiting area so they can bring your food out to you. The root cause of the problem is that the time it takes to cook the food is longer than the time it takes to get from the order entry point (the microphone and speaker you order from) to the cashier. If there are people in line behind you they don’t want them to wait, so they move you off to a waiting area. As all lean thinkers would recognize, this waiting area is “waste.”

What does In ‘N Out do when they are jammed up? They move the order entry point back further so they have more time to prepare your order. Then when you get to the front of the line, your order is right there for you and you can be in and out.

How do they move the order entry point further back in the process? Simple, the same employee that McDonald’s and others are using to run food out to waiting cars, In ‘N Out positions several cars back of the usual order entry point in the line and they take your order and “radio” it in. Thus the order is sent earlier and you don’t have to wait.

Lean thinking applied. Look upstream for the root cause not down stream for a fix/rework.


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