Last week I was invited along to the McDonald's restaurant in St Ann's Square, Manchester to have a look at some of the changes which the restaurants have begun to roll out. It was very clear from the outset that these changes are not only about streamlining the experience for the customer but also modernising the way McDonald's operates.
There are 3 specific areas in which McDonald's have made changes. The first thing I noticed when I stepped into the restaurant (other than the stunning stained glass roof, which you have to check out if you are ever in Manchester city centre) was how quiet it was. I commented about this and was told that this is definitely a response to the updates and redesigns which have been made.
McDonald's have revolutionised their kitchen design; gone are the shouts for different orders and chaos at the kiosk. The kitchens now have designated stations for each item such as drinks, food etc and with the digital changes which have been implemented (more on that in a minute...) the majority of orders now come through via screen.
I was invited to go behind the scenes to see how some of the food is made and I was certainly impressed with not only the speed at which the staff work, and the level of training and support they receive, but also how streamlined everything was. It was interesting to see how it works from the 'other side' and I certainly have a bigger appreciation for the way it works now. It's astonishing how much information the staff have to remember and how quickly they can turnaround an order...I was certainly flustered just trying to make one Big Mac.
There are even members of staff who are specifically responsible for hospitality; greeting customers, helping them with the kiosks and they can even bring your meals to you with a new table service option; this wasn't available in the St Ann's restaurant but I have personally experienced it in the newly renovated Southport restaurant and can tell you that it makes a real difference when you are visiting with children and are trying to keep eyes everywhere as you order your food, find a table and don't lose any children. We all know how busy McDonald's can be over the lunch hour and this option will certainly help to make that simpler.
The table service involves 'zoning'; you order from a self-service kiosk and then find a table in the designated zone and have your meals brought directly to you. Which I personally think is a brilliant idea!
It is also possible to fully customise your order with the new self-service kiosk, either by adding ingredients in or removing anything you don't want. I was told during my visit that there was a direct correlation between the installation of the self-service kiosk and the number of salads which had been ordered as a side instead of fries; simply because people can now take their time, look at the different options available to them and make an informed decision, rather than just going with what they know.
Another digital change which has been introduced are tablets placed out for use; they are for both adults and children with access to all the major social media networks available. The tablets are fully removable so that the restaurants can also ensure they don't become damaged over time.
I very much got the impression that this was about a whole new dining experience. It was of course still possible to take your order to go but if you wanted to sit and eat in the restaurant then McDonald's have re-created the way in which you can do this. I definitely think that this will make a difference for families; simply having someone offer to bring your food over can make a massive difference when you are trying to juggle children and dinner!
I have to admit to being very impressed with the new changes which have been made; although I don't know whether my future is in making Big Macs. I might leave that to the experts!
This is a sponsored post. I was invited to attend McDonald's to see the changes they are making. All thoughts and opinions are my own.