How to make fast food unfast
Friday, November 11, 2005
The appeal of fast food joints is, literally, the quick service, i.e., you order something, you pay for it, and you expect it to be ready as you get your change back.
It's not that complicated of an equation, I think: the faster you make a burger, the faster you can serve a new client - And in the process make the client happy, as in our time-saturated North American life style, time is money.
So, I go to a local burger joint and duly fall in line to order my "fast" lunch. I look around and see a new promotion of "toasted" sandwiches. I see the "Steak Sandwich" and proceed to order it. The cashier informs me that it could take four to five minutes to prepare. I nod indicating that it is fine, I can wait - There is nothing that will stop me from enjoying that steak sandwich.
Five minutes go by; then six; then seven. Around the eight minute my lunch is ready, but I'm left questioning the "fast food" oath or serving me greasy (and unhealthy, if eaten without moderation) fast food - After all, I have the right to get fatter as quickly as I want to.
I put my thinking hat on to dispense the only thought of the year, in order to ponder the joint's strategy of introducing a lunch that takes so long to prepare that the customer-greasy-food relationship is now jeopardized, for they made me wait eight whole minutes to eat my food.
I understand that they need to jump in the new "toasted sandwich" bandwagon, as everyone and their dog are introducing these toasted things.
Have you noticed there are lot more "new" oven toasted lunch choices? As a market place, do we really need that many toasted sandwiches for lunch? Well, it's like the tooth-whitening thing - How white can my teeth really get?
But I digress...I almost canceled my order, with the thought of acquiring a trusty original burger - That thing is ready in fifteen seconds - Perhaps it's from a different type of cow, since it takes so little time to cook.
As far as business strategies go, this one was probably not well tested in a real world situation, i.e., rush hour. Imagine, that by chance, the next twenty people in line order the steak sandwich for lunch. Yeap. It's a linearly growing function - I personally wouldn't want to be the twentieth person in line.
To their strategists' credit, this is probably a temporary promotion to compete with the other "fast" food giants and their toasted treats - The promotion does have a feel of the "me too" strategy in order to have one more toasted meal option to capture a piece of the lunch market.
As per the success of the strategy of introducing a new sandwich in the mix, it did work in my case - They have my six dollars, but it's probably the last time I buy the steak sandwich from them: it took way too long to prepare.
If I were them, I would personally reconsider the fast-food oath they swore to upheld...