The employee taking orders at the drive-through of your favorite fast-food restaurant may have been a little distant lately.
That's because several fast-food chains are testing whether it is more efficient to have remote workers, sometimes thousands of miles away, handle taking drive-through orders and in-restaurant employees concentrate on making food and other tasks, the Boston Globe reports.
In an effort for faster service and more accurate orders, the chains are establishing their own call centers to take drive-through orders at some of their restaurants. Some Wendy's restaurants, including one in Burbank, California, use a call center in New Hampshire for drive-through orders.
One recent customer of the Burbank restaurant tells the newspaper that he had no idea that the person from whom he ordered a cheeseburger, fries, and soda was 3,000 miles away.
"I had absolutely no idea I was talking to someone in New Hampshire," Jairo Moncada tells the newspaper. "Our order was ready at the window. It was really quick."
By creating multiple drive-through lanes at the restaurants and using call centers to take orders, the restaurants can increase the number of customers served per hour, according to the newspaper.
One expert predicts that the practice will become widespread, the newspaper reports.
"Everyone is looking at these call centers," says Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president of food-services strategies at WD Partners in Columbus, Ohio. "You can move orders faster, increase the average check by selling them extras--'Would you like fries with that?'--and improve order accuracy. It will become the norm in the next 5 to 10 years."
Obviously, speed and accuracy are especially important in the drive-through business. Wendy's average time for drive-through service was 135.1 seconds in 2006, according to a report by QSR magazine. The company was second best behind Checkers (125.5 seconds) in the magazine's speed ranking of drive-through restaurants.
Wendy's tells the newspaper that it expects orders to be completed in less than 90 seconds at restaurants using call centers.
Sources: Boston Globe and QSR