McDonald’s is slowly rolling out fresh beef patties as it tries to win back customers who want better-tasting burgers, but will this switch slow down the kitchen and cause McD’s to lose some loyal customers who think fast food should be fast?
McDonald’s began offering fresh beef Quarter Pounders at several locations in Texas and Oklahoma in 2016, and expanded the option to even more locations in Texas this spring, while also announcing that a majority of restaurants would put fresh beef on the menu in 2018.
But that expansion of fresh beef comes with a drawback: It’s just not as fast. Reuters reports that restaurants offering fresh beef Quarter Pounders and the new “Signature Crafted” burgers are expected to take about a minute longer to fry up and deliver burgers to customers.
While that might not sound like a long wait, when you’re using the drive-thru for a quick bite, it just might be. Add to that, the other new initiatives at McDonald’s, such as self-order kiosks, customizable sandwiches, and mobile orders, and the time you wait for a burger could be even longer.
To make matters worse for the Golden Arches, the fast food behemoth wasn’t really that fast at getting orders out to begin with.
A QSR magazine study found that the average service time at a McDonald’s drive-thru in 2016 was 208.2 seconds (about 3.47 minutes), far below the drive-thru leader, Wendy’s which recorded an average time of 169.1 seconds (2.81 minutes). It’s worth pointing out that Wendy’s uses fresh beef patties, but is still able to keep the drive-thru line moving.
Several McDonald’s managers in Dallas tell Reuters that, so far, offering fresh beef Quarter Pounders has improved sales. They are trying to beat any discontent from passengers by warning them ahead of time that their meals will take a bit longer to reach their windows.
While it’s unclear if customers are willing to wait longer of their meals over and over at McDonald’s, many tells Reuters they’ll give it a shot, at least for now.
One customer tells Reuters that he was excited to try the new burger, but wasn’t sure if the wait would be worth it.
“If it’s better, I don’t mind waiting,” he said after waiting three minutes for the order. ”But if it tastes the same, then no.”
If customers don’t think the burger is better, analysts say McDonald’s could lose them to rivals.
That was certainly the feeling for one customer in Dallas, who told Reuters after waiting four minutes she would go elsewhere for a quick meal if it always took that long to produce the burgers.