Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Out-sourcing fast food?

It shouldn't come as a surprise that I'm an NPR junkie. What you may not know is that my favorite program isn't Prarie Home Companion (although Miriam and I have seen it live, twice), nor Car Talk, but rather Marketplace. Its business news, but with a certain amount of wit that makes it really enjoyable.

Today, they had a piece on McDonald's using call centers to staff the drive through. Orders are completed, on average, 30 seconds faster. Orders total about $1.00 more than traditional drive-thru orders because the order takers are trained sales people. All very interesting, and, I have to admit, it seems like a great idea. There are huge possibilities, such as being able to go to any McDonald's, and order in any language (not an issue for me, but you get the idea).

Right now, the call center is in Colorado Springs, about two miles from the McDonald's that is piloting this program. But, when McDonald's takes it nation wide, I don't think it is too unrealistic to see them outsource this off shore. It would appear that even service jobs aren't safe from globalization.

To be honest, I am not against out-sourcing, even though it will probably render me redundant. We make the same decisions in our own lives: why go to the local hardware store, that is only open from 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Monday - Friday, to buy a box of nails that will cost twice as much as the exact same nails at Home Depot. I'm sure everyone wants to support the little guy, but convenience and cost are going to win out.

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