I was in the drive-thru of a national fast food chain the other day. As I placed my order, something seemed out of sorts. Was it their menu choices? No…that wasn’t it. The prices? Nope. Initially, I was surprised by thoroughness of the person taking my order. Not only was I asked if I wanted to order fries with my drink (something that usually doesn’t happen with any degree of regularity), but the person even asked me if I wanted lemon in the sweet tea (I didn’t even know you could get a lemon). When I pulled around to the ever popular “second drive-thru window,” (you know the one that only allows enough space for 2.5 cars to fit thus pretty much negating the benefit of having two drive thru windows?) I commented on her thoroughness. “Oh, we’re routing our drive thru orders through somewhere else…I think North Dakota” she responded.
Let me get this straight–I’m in Pennsylvania ordering a sweet tea and a small fry and the person taking my order is in North Dakota? Now that I think about it, her accent did seem a bit off but at the time I attributed that to poor speaker quality.
That’s when it hit me. Anything can be outsourced…and I mean anything.
The benefits in this case are likely focused around resource optimization and quality control. Through a call center, they can reroute orders from franchises throughout the country without having to staff them on site. But I’m thinking the bigger benefit has more to do with quality control. As I said earlier, it probably was one of the most thorough orders I’d ever placed and, in an industry with ever shrinking margins and increasing competition, their ability to capture the add on sales can be huge. Outsourcing allows them to consistently train their staff without having to leave it up to individual franchisees.
The only thing I don’t understand is the inefficient use of the cashier. For now, we still need someone to stand at “the first drive-thru window” to take our cash. If that person isn’t the one taking your order, it seems that position isn’t being fully utilized. What’s next on the outsourcing horizon? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Shawn Graham is Director of MBA Career Services at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job.