Do You Want Fries With That Shake?


In today’s growing world, it seems as if every one wants exactly what they want exactly when they want it. To accommodate this growing trend among needy and picky consumers, many businesses have delved into the world of mass customization. Mass customization is a “rapid, low-cost production that caters to constantly changing unique customer desires” (Heizer and Render 274). This process deals with high volume and high variety, with many parts and component inputs that result in many different and unique output versions. Mass customization dominates almost every economic and industrial sector – shoes, clothing, phones, computers, and now…food!

Due to the increasing trend of mass customization and consumer preference, fast food chains such as McDonald’s and White Castle have implemented kiosks into a few of their stores in the United States that allow customers to create their own customized order at their convenience. If you think about it, it really is ingenious. How many times have you gone to McDonald’s or any other fast-food restaurant, ordered a meal with certain specifications, and the cashier did not relay that information to the kitchen, and your order was messed up? As a picky eater, this happens to me all the time, and it is frustrating. Through the implementation of self-serve kiosks, customers can order their weird or picky combinations in their own privacy without having to repeat that same order back to the cashier multiple times to make sure they have it down correctly.

There are many advantages to using kiosks in fast food restaurants: reduced labor costs, enhanced customization, speed, convenience, and standardized menu information and marketing messages (Blank). Much like how Chipotle utilizes its more well-trained employees during peak rush hour times, these kiosks help alleviate pressure from the employees in restaurants by assisting with customer service (Kiosk Europe). However, there are also some disadvantages to using kiosks when ordering food. These include initial cost for purchase, training, and installation, customer support for when the customer does not understand how to use the machine or when the machine does not work, and maintenance. When looking at the disadvantages, I cannot help but draw comparisons to self-checkouts that many grocery and convenience stores utilize, which we briefly touched on in class. While these kiosks and self-checkouts might save time in theory, if a customer is unfamiliar with the technology, the process takes much more time than ordering or checking out from someone who is trained for that specific task.

From personal experience, I think that kiosks are good in theory, but not so much in practice. This summer, I travelled to Berlin and Prague with DePaul for a business seminar/study aboard. In Berlin, a few of us decided to check out a European McDonald’s to see the differences between an European McDonald’s and an American McDonald’s. Besides the change in general atmosphere, we noticed four kiosks, where people were placing their orders. We decided to try…and we failed. Not only was the kiosk in German, but we could not figure out how to change the language settings, and we were not familiar with the European menu!

Have you ever used a kiosk or tablet to order at a fast food restaurant? If so, how was your experience?

Will fast food kiosks go down the same path as self-checkouts at convenience stores, or will they have more success?


Blank, Christine. “Burgers By Design.” QSR Magazine. January 2014.

Heizer, Jay and Barry Render. “Process Strategy.” Principles of Operations Management. 272-294.

Kiosk Europe.

Meehan, Sarah and Jayne O’Donnell. “Self-lane checkouts boost convenience, theft risk.” USA Today. 9 April 2012.


How Chipotle Rolled to Success

Obama-Chipotle-MemeStep into Chipotle during lunch or dinner hours (or after class), and you can almost guarantee a line that stretches far past their service counter. With articles such as one from Business Insider teaching consumers how to get more food for the same price and the story of President Obama committing the ultimate faux pas while ordering his burrito bowl, it’s safe to say Chipotle has become a cultural phenomenon.

Chipotle can contribute their success and expansion to several factors such as a clear brand message that commits to serving fresh, healthy and natural food at affordable prices; however, depending on external funds by franchising their restaurants isn’t one of them.

Several of the most successful restaurant chains can credit franchising to their rapid growth including Subway, McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, KFC, Dairy Queen and Buffalo Wild Wings.

With just around 1,600 locations, which pale in comparison to many popular franchises (Subway has 43,000 locations), why hasn’t Chipotle considered franchising?

The answer is simple. They don’t need nor do they want to. So how have they managed to succeed among the sea of franchises?

One of Chipotle’s greatest contributing factors lie within their management approach called the restaurateur program.

Starting in 2005, shortly before their divesture from the McDonald’s Corporation, the company implemented a system that heavily relies on internal promotion to motivate their employees and provide opportunity for career growth beyond most fast food corporations. The same year the restaurateur program was initiated, it was quoted that 20% of managers gained their position through the program. As of 2013, 86% of salaried managers and 96% of hourly managers were internally promoted.


A general manager can only rise to the rank of being a restaurateur based on their performance of how well they manage their restaurant and staff. After being selected, restaurateurs make well over $100,000 and are given a $10,000 one-time bonus, stock options, a company car and an additional $10,000 for each of their crew members that are promoted to general manager.

I think employee motivation is a crucial factor that’s often overlooked to successful operations management and have found it refreshing to learn that a company I frequent so often offers great employee incentives and benefits. In addition, not conforming to industry norms by trusting the skills of their employees to adjust recipes such as if a crate of jalapeños is hotter than usual, in my opinion, creates a superior product, service and experience. Do you think Chipotle chose the right track by not franchising their restaurants?

On the other hand, it takes more than a management handbook to keep a system running smoothly. Recently, a Chipotle near Penn State University experienced almost their entire management and crew resign citing near sweat-shop working conditions due to understaffing. This forced operations to shut down. Do you think this was an isolated incident by poor management at this particular location or are there bigger problems within the Chipotle Corporation?

Overall, what do you think of Chipotle’s restaurateur program?


Beef Prices at an All-Time High a Good Thing?

In the recent months, commodity prices have soared to record highs, with the sharpest increase being in the price of beef. The reason for this increase is partially due to last summer’s drought, but it is much higher than most analysts predicted. This has begun to affect the profits of large restaurant chains such as Burger King, Wendys, and most importantly McDonalds.

1C7301038-130509_angus_hmed_1213p.blocks_desktop_smallIn early May, McDonalds announces that it would remove its Angus Third Pounders from their menu. The company said the removal of this burger was done to make room for other food options, but most experts agree that the profit margins are too low for beef items like these to remain profitable.

This has resulted in McDonalds and other restaurant chains to begin to retool their supply chain to put a heavier emphasis on chicken products, which is more profitable than beef. McDonalds has already begun to roll out new items such as the premium chicken wraps. This will definitely be more costly in the short run, but with rising prices, and more health-conscious consumers, it is a good long-term strategy.

With obesity at all time highs, and consumers becoming more health-conscious, this rise in beef prices could not come at a better time. Chicken is much healthier that beef, having significantly less calories and fat. With chicken prices being low, this could benefit both the restaurants and the consumer.

This situation can be compared to gas prices hitting an all time high in 2008.  Once prices hit the high, there was a sudden demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles, planes, trains, etc. They use less fuel, are much more efficient, and produce significantly less emissions that harm our environment. Similar to beef prices, consumers had no reason to switch to the better option until it became cost-effective.

In any industries of this size, change has to be gradual. Switching from beef to chicken is easy for consumers. On the contrary, in order to fulfill demand, restaurants like McDonalds have to completely re-tool their supply-chain. Farms need to change their facilities to accommodate more chickens, processing plants need to change all their machinery, and restaurants need to change how they cook and prepare the final product.

I personally believe that this will benefit both the profit-minded producer, along with the health-conscious consumer. The fast food world is changing, and these companies know that innovation is essential to adapt to the changing taste buds of consumers.

What is your eating preference at these fast food chains? Do you think this rise in commodity prices is a good thing? Have you become more health-conscious?

The King Delivers: Burger King’s New Delivery Service

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 8.12.14 PM

The world of fast food has always been about convenience for customers in terms of pricing, locations, accessibility, etc. Burger King has decided to take it a step further by introducing a delivery service in major U.S. Metropolitan areas. The service is now offered in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Customers must order a minimum of $10 worth of food to be eligible for the delivery service.

Ordering food for delivery has been trending for quite some time now thanks to websites like Grub Hub. Although delivery service has been around for many years at places like Pizza Hut and Dominos, it has risen in popularity with more restaurants offering it as well as providing convenient ways of ordering such as via the phone, Internet, or mobile app.  Out of the major fast food restaurants (McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway, Wendy’s), Burger King is the first one to test the market for delivery service.

Currently, Burger King is in the maturity stage of its product life cycle because its competitors are well established and they are focused on innovation. They are forecasting a positive return for their delivery service and hope to be the trendsetters among other fast food giants. The very popular drive-thru option was introduced in 1975 at both Burger King and McDonalds and became a standard at fast food restaurants. McDonalds is clearly untouchable in terms of competition with sales four times greater than Burger King, but Burger King’s delivery service strategy can help them get a step ahead and be the first company to introduce it.

I believe that Burger King is going to have some success with their delivery service with their already established, loyal customers, but will not have a lot of impact on irregular consumers. Although America has always been a nation of fast food, the new trend is eating healthy and being fit. Healthy lifestyles are more and more promoted and gym memberships are on the rise. Burger King’s delivery service does not align with the new trend, but instead makes it easier for people to eat unhealthy.

A way that the company can utilize the delivery service is to introduce healthier menu options. They can then combine the two ideas by promoting the delivery of new salads or other products. Other than that, I do not see this service surviving in the long run. I also do not think that McDonalds will invest in it because if deemed to be successful, then the number one fast food chain would have tried it a lot sooner.

Although Burger King’s delivery service is in the trial stage, they are still following their commitment to convenience for customers. May the odds be ever in their favor.









Angus got kicked out!!

As the economy keeps changing, products’ prices keep are raising as well. A lot of the companies made a lot of changes to adapt to this economy. Not only supermarket and clothing stores are affected by the economy, so are fast food restaurants. The fast food industry are facing higher beef prices and McDonald’s have to change their menu to adjust to this change. McDonald’s have to decide what changes will keep costs low and balance customers demand. Recently, McDonald’s announced that they will have three new quarter pounders added to their menus, replacing the Angus burger.

McDonald’s tried to control their cost of operating and total revenue, but not affecting the customers too much. Therefore, they made a decision to create three new Quarter Pounders to replace the Angus burgers. The product decision have met product strategy options, there are different burgers produced with low costs. Also, they made a lot of concerns of these new burgers. For example, they understood the customers’ needs; they can attract more teenagers for the new innovation of quarter pounders. They also knew that if they raise the prices, they will scare customers away. Instead of raising the prices of their burgers, McDonald’s created and changed products to reduce costs and not affect customers demand. Moreover, the most concern of the new change is the price-conscious customers and traditional fast-food chains because McDonald’s are trying to meet fast-food market demand and provide high quality food like its competitors.

In addition, “McDonald’s executives say the strategy is necessary to steal away customers at a time when the restaurant industry is barely growing” (Choi). They have met the Product Focus, one of the basic process strategies. In product focus, products are in high volume and low variety, therefore, McDonald’s decides to bring Angus Burgers down and bring up Quarter Pounders to replace it. They did it not only for the price, but also the changes of value. Since Angus Burgers were the most expensive item on McDonald’s menus and it hasn’t made any newer variety of the Angus burgers, it would be a great decision to balance McDonald’s sales and profits. This strategy will also attract more customers to try out more new products other than quarter pounders. The value of quarter pounders is healthier and better than Angus burgers. McDonald’s provide healthier items on their menus to meet customers’ demand and new customers that are loyal to other fast food restaurants..

After reading the article, I believed that McDonald’s are not only making new quarter pounders or McMuffin to attracts customers, they are trying to change traditional fast-food chains to fast-food market demand which they can meet customers demand. As long as they can win back customers from other fast food restaurants, they can make anything that customers like and put them on menus. For example, McDonald’s in Hong Kong even put Chinese food on their menus, even though it is an American fast food restaurant. I think this is unbelievable. In the United States, McDonald’s put Mexican style McWraps and breakfast burrito on their menus.

Do you think the three new quarter pounders can satisfy those customers who like third-pounder angus burgers? Would McDonald’s be affected if their menus contain items other than American style food?