McDonald’s on Sunset Blvd in St. George opened today with a whole new build-your-own-burger touchscreen ordering system. It’s just the second one in the state of Utah but Mcdonald’s self-serve terminals will likely be commonplace nationwide very soon, according to owner/operator Mark Parrish.
“If it goes well, within three years you’ll see them all across the country”. Mark and his father Dave operate the 10 McDonald’s stores between Provo and St. George. “This is just the second in the state, as we’re a bit of a test market. This will be the first one that’s advertised.”
The Parrish’s say that not only is this a natural evolution for McDonald’s but that they reinvent themselves about every ten years. “By December 70% of the stores in Utah will be equipped with this technology, including all four of our restaurants in St. George,” said Dave Parrish. “We’re always trying to see what we can do to make our customers happy.”
While not every customer chose to to use the new system today, the Parrish’s say 30 to 40 percent did and their response has been “Amazing.” Patron Shane Brown concurred.
“Basically I built a Quarter Pounder with Big Mac sauce, which I’ve never even thought that was a possibility before. I threw on Pepperjack cheese, tomato, lettuce and then a specialty bun,” said Brown. “It’s right up there with Five Guys, Smashburger, Red Robin — that’s where I’d put it. Definitely out of the regular McDonald’s category. I’ll probably camp out here for a little while.”
In addition to the new touchscreen interfaces, additional changes have been made to the entire ordering process (see video). When arriving, customers are now greeted by a concierge and walked through the new system. The new terminals not only custom build your burger order with any toppings and sauces, but can also complete your order with your choice of sides and drinks. After paying, the new build-your-own-burger process takes about 8 to 10 minutes so customers are invited to take a “puck” that tracks which table patrons have sat down at. The food is then brought to your table, but no tip is expected.
The new upscale experience is a response to customer demand according to the Parrish’s. “This is what they want, especially for dinner, our customers would rather sit down to wait rather than stand.”
While not everyone is utilizing the new system yet, the Parrish’s feel this is the future and it’s worth the investment. “People think we might be saving labor or costs with these new stations, but it’s actually the opposite.” said the younger Parrish. “We’re adding approximately 35 labor hours per day with the new process.” That’s largely because of a separate prep line for the build-your-own-burger and the labor it requires. “We hope to make it up in volume.” In addition, your typical Quarter Pounder coming off the old line costs a bit less at $4.19. The equivalent from the new build-your-own line is $4.99, but comes with more options and is presented in a fancier packaging.
The Parrish’s are trying to upgrade the entire experience, from the ordering, to delivery, to the presentation. “Not only do we deliver it to the table, but we serve the sandwich open, preserving the hot and cold sides. We also melt the cheese for the last 30 seconds of the cooking, something not normally done on the regular line,” said Parrish.