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Can A Build-Your-Own-Burger Option Save McDonald’s?

Can A Build-Your-Own-Burger Option Save McDonald’s?
[Photo: Flickr user Thomas Angermann]

Faced with declining sales both in the U.S. and abroad, McDonald’s is hoping to entice diners back by catering to their whims. It is actively rolling out a build-your-own-burger program to 2,000 of its 14,000 U.S. locations and throughout Australia, betting that a customizable menu will appeal to millennials and fans of the fast-growing Chipotle, a chain that McDonald’s was once invested in.

The program works through an in-store kiosk, which customers can use to select items like the bun, cheese, toppings, and special sauces of their choice, according to USA Today. McDonald’s calls this “Create Your Taste,” though it might as well be called Have It Your Way–the longtime slogan of Burger King, which the rival burger joint ditched earlier this year.

The McDonald’s program was first tested in four Southern California locations, and then expanded to another 30 in Illinois (McDonald’s is headquartered in suburban Oak Brook), Wisconsin, Georgia, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. The rollout will continue in 2015.

The build-your-own option may have limited appeal, though. Among its challenges: It costs more than a pre-made order, although McDonald’s says that customers have so far been willing to pay up. It takes about seven minutes for an order to be fulfilled, several times longer than the wait that most McDonald’s customers are accustomed to. And customizable sandwiches can only be ordered in-store, not via drive-thru, which is a heavy source of many McDonald’s locations’s revenue.

McDonald’s reported a sales decline of 4.6% in the U.S. for the month of November and 2.2% worldwide in the same time period.

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