Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

McDonald's New System Is `Made for You'

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

McDonald's New System Is `Made for You'

Article excerpt

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- It's 11:30 a.m., the lunch rush is on and McDonald's franchisee Steven Bigari can't wait to check out the competition.

Stopwatch in hand, Bigari, 39, hops in his Chevy Tahoe and speeds off to Burger King, where he finds it takes three times as long to fill his order as the 60 seconds he says his crew would take. And the meat on his sandwich is dry, he says -- something he claims you'll never find at his McDonald's. Not anymore.

Bigari is one of the first McDonald's franchisees to adopt a new operating system that scraps its traditional pre-made and kept-warm fare for hamburgers made to order, delivered as fast as ever. It's the centerpiece of McDonald's strategy for returning to glory days in its home market, where its sales and market share have stagnated. "They're hotter, they're fresher," Bigari said of the sandwiches now offered at his five McDonald's in Colorado Springs. "Our quality has gone up exponentially." That's encouraging news to some McDonald's investors. After flitting from price cuts to toy giveaways to "new" sandwiches prepared the same old way in a vain attempt to pump up U.S. sales, McDonald's may have finally gotten the message, they say. The new system "really improves the taste and taste is a big part of all this," said Timothy Ghriskey, head of value investing for Dreyfus Corp., which held 2.1 million McDonald's shares in March. "I feel this is a real product improvement that has the potential to drive sales," said Ghriskey, who says he knows a franchisee who has adopted the new system. The procedure, which McDonald's calls "Made for You," does away with its 43-year-old process of making sandwiches by the batch ahead of time and putting them in warming bins. Bigari's crews don't start filling an order until it's placed. "Made for You" also does away with McDonald's practice of discouraging special orders, lest they disrupt its fine-tuned assembly line. …

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