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Can McDonald's Speed Up Drive-Thru With Third Window?


McDonald's announced plans on Thursday to spend up to $3 billion next year on opening 1,500 to 1,600 new restaurants and remodeling about 1,000 others worldwide. One reported key to some of the new and rebooted restaurants: a third drive-thru window.


McDonald's has been plagued by complaints over the time it takes to get meals on the go from the drive through. A recent study found that McDonald's was slower than ever in 2013, averaging 189.5 seconds, the slowest average speed of service for the burger chain in the last fifteen years.

McDonald's speed has been hampered by its rapid introduction of new menu items. Options such as Premium McWraps, Egg White Delight McMuffins and new McChickens made operations more complex, and therefore, more time consuming.

In an effort to speed up the process, Fast Forward Drive-Thru will reportedly start appearing in new and revamped McDonald's stores in 2014. Today, customers pay at the first window and pick up food at the second. By introducing a second pick up window, McDonald's hopes to enable customers to order and be served more quickly.

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McDonald's did not immediately return a request for comment.

Unfortunately for those tired of waiting extra minutes for a burger, most people in the U.S. probably will not notice much change. The company is only updating 300 U.S. restaurants in the next year, compared to 465 this year through the third quarter, according to The Wall Street Journal. The pullback is reportedly tied to franchisee response, whose profits have been decreased as a result of slower sales. So, while the third window represents an ingenious solution for one of McDonald's big problems, don't except it to speed up your lunch break -- yet.

McDonald's third quarter earnings, released in October, revealed mixed results. The company posted earnings of $1.52 a share, beating analysts' estimates by one cent, and revenue of $7.32 billion, just shy of the $7.34 billion expected. While U.S. comparable sales increased 0.7 percent in the third quarter, comparable sales in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa declined 1.4 percent for the quarter.

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