Is McDonalds Outsourcing their Drive-Thru Windows?

The rumor I heard was that McDonalds would be outsourcing the job of taking orders at the drive-thru window to some company in North Dakota, because the minimum wage in North Dakota is only $5.15, whereas it's higher in other states, so they figure they can save some money. In other words, you could be going through a drive-thru in San Diego and giving your order to some guy in North Dakota. This struck me as very odd. But it appears that the story is basically true, except that McDonalds denies that its reasons for doing this has anything to do with trying to pay their employees less. They claim that when employees have to take orders over the drive-thru mic and deliver food at the same time, they start making a lot of mistakes. So this is just an effort to make the system more efficient. Maybe. But I've read Fast Food Nation so I know that McDonalds is one of the worst companies in terms of underpaying their employees, and I'm guessing that they are hoping this will reduce labor costs.

Business/Finance Food

Posted on Fri Mar 18, 2005


Yay, go Electra!

I never ate at McDonald's to being with, I've hated their food even when I was a kid, but after watching Super Size Me, that just sealed the deal.

And you should NEVER feel like you have to "stand around" waiting to be acknowledged. That's why the words EXCUSE ME were invented. Personally, I think if you were waiting in the lobby that long, you should have just walked out. They probably spit in your food anyway.
Posted by Sarah  on  Sun Mar 20, 2005  at  06:10 PM
For anyone who actually cares, the original article from "The Oregonian" is here...

Also, the company is called SEI-CCS, not CCS-SEI, so the link in the blogcritics article doesn't work.

Their actual website is

Maybe sending them email or phoning them will get some answers, and stop the debate right there.

Have fun with that.
Posted by Rod  in  the land of smarties.  on  Sun Mar 20, 2005  at  06:40 PM
At least CMG and I agree on one thing. But I think he is forgetting who 'Big Business' really is. Today they are publicly traded corporatations owned by thousands (or milllions) of shareholders from all walks of life. That's you and me. And we certainly don't mind if it makes us a little money, do we? If it didn't, we wouldn't hesitate to drop that fund like a hot french fry.

If McDonalds wants to run fluffy ads, let them. You don't really believe them, do you? Is it wrong for them to claim to be part of the community and pay minimum wage? I don't think so. Lots of private citizens don't support charities but they consider themselves part of the community. As long as a business pays its corporate tax, it has fulfilled its obligations just like everyone else. Any contributions to charities should be considered a bonus. For many young people, a fast food job is their first. They gain valuable job skills to take with them to the next one. They were never meant to be careers. But if someone chooses to drop out of school to flip burgers, they don't have my sympathy. Amoral, libertarianism? No, just real world common sense.

The wage thing by the way, is a double-edged sword. I know a town where fast food places pay more than double the minimum wage. Why? Because they can't get enough workers. But I don't hear those employees saying. "Well everywhere else they work for minimum wage so we can only accept that amout.", nor would I expect them to.

Competition helps ensure the consumer gets the best value. Our elected officials are responsible to make sure it is done in a fair way and punish those who break the rules. If they don't, they are at fault. We should be kicking their asses, not corportation's. If employers want to outsource to get an advantage, then we shouldn't stop them. What makes a mayor in Oregon think his town is any more deserving of those jobs than a town in North Dakota?
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Mon Mar 21, 2005  at  11:58 AM
McDonald's has outsourced its drive-thru orders to the same communications group that operated GWBs earpiece during last year's debates. Want lies with that?
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Mon Mar 21, 2005  at  12:38 PM
The local McDonalds was one of those that outsourced the order taking. They stopped it fairly soon bcause the expected time savings didn't show up. Seems that the order takers screwed up the orders fairly regularly, so the window people had to prepare the order twice.
Posted by sthorne  on  Mon Mar 21, 2005  at  01:47 PM
As an aside, another way McDonalds could save money through outsourcing is not just by being able to pay their employees less, but then they can have each employee using the ear piece work at a few different McDonalds all over the country. So, in theory they could hire less employees overall and pay them less each.

Though, now that I wrote that I see the fault. Each individual McDonalds still probably would need the same amount of people working just to put the orders together, so it would actually cause McD's to have to hire more employees with the outsourcing.

Well, if they really want to save money, they should outsource it to Mexico! ...I was just going to make a joke by writing "Do you want fries with that?" in spanish before I realized I don't really know any spanish.....Oh well, jokes on me then.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Mon Mar 21, 2005  at  04:02 PM
Hairy said:

"McDonald's has outsourced its drive-thru orders to the same communications group that operated GWBs earpiece during last year's debates. Want lies with that?"

Would you like to Super Size those lies?

So McDonald's is going to invade Iran now?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Mar 21, 2005  at  06:11 PM
McD's is gonna invade Iran? With what- Happy Meals? Get Syrias
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Mon Mar 21, 2005  at  06:37 PM
McDonalds is outsourcing to states and areas where the order takers speak English. Over the last 5 years the conplaint on limited speaking order takers has been on going problem.
The complaint are in the thousands.
Posted by Kit  on  Tue Mar 22, 2005  at  06:55 PM
I also disagree with McDonalds for locating its new company in state with a low minimum wage. Wouldn't it be a better business decision to put it somewhere where the minimum wage is even higher!?! HAhaha, they dont know anything about running a business. O yea, HAHAHA! I forgot, the outsourcing thing, what the hell are they thinking??!!!! They actually believe that someone completely undistracted and doing something they do every single day, over and over again is going to be more accurate and faster than an employee taking orders while trying to prepare massive ass orders where most of the sandwiches have to be made special, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, while being glared at by bitchy ass customers on the front counter who believe they could do better, and who will never respect him because he works fast food, all while being lectured by his manager about how he expects him to get the drive thru times down. I mean duh! Of course that over worked stressed out employee is going to take a more accurate order, he's in the mode, ya know? I cant believe the things McDonalds thinks of for its employees. What a burden ... door knob corporate McDonald think alots. If it wasn't for the rapid promotions, the pay increases, and benefits offered to outstanding employees, the whole thing would sink like a stone. Who needs em, hopefully the fat bumbs suing the original fast food company will drain all of their money. Who needs em.
Posted by P MAN!!!  in  AMERICA  on  Mon Apr 11, 2005  at  02:51 PM
P MAN said:

"They actually believe that someone completely undistracted and doing something they do every single day, over and over again is going to be more accurate and faster than an employee taking orders while trying to prepare massive ass orders where most of the sandwiches have to be made special, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, while being glared at by bitchy ass customers on the front counter who believe they could do better, and who will never respect him because he works fast food, all while being lectured by his manager about how he expects him to get the drive thru times down."

Well, yeah, OR they're a bunch of cheap corporate fucks who want to pay people as little as possible, regardless of whether it's a living wage of not. Yeah, there's that.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  01:41 AM
I bet you also believe taht RC cars will land jumps, coke will quench my thirst and make me blissfully happy, deoderant choices will get me laid, beer will make women attracted to me, politicians are respectable people, phillip-morris wants people to quit smoking, gatorade will make you glow, shoes will give me
endurance, having genital herpes is no reason that you won't find a boyfriend who is a model, acne will go away, clothes will make you look good, pills will make you happy, and car dealerships want to make YOU a good deal.

Commercials are always crap. Stop babbling about how corporations are out to *gasp* make money, and start doing something about it like a) not eating mcdonalds, b) getting other people to not eat mcdonalds, c) understand why corporations have unfair advantages over other businesses, and d) organize a PAC or something to demand repeal of all the legislation that creates their unfair advantage.

Good luck, because it's going to be hard. I have 5 - 1 odds, you won't do more than 1 of those things for over a month, and be back on here bitching about the next travesty McDonald's does. The only fast food bludgeoning I can think of is "the enormous omelette sandwich"; that thing just LOOKS nasty. ugh! thus, began my boycott of BK.

Anyway, Spurlock said it in SS Me, you're not going to change corporate behavior, unless you can change consumer behavior. Thus your angst should be less dedicated to the board and CEO of McDonald's, but rather to the entire population of America, including our government officials.
Posted by bobbo  on  Mon Apr 18, 2005  at  09:35 AM
And as far as a living wage is concerned... ??!?!?!

Ah, i get so frustrated with this mentality. Ok, I used to know a guy who managed a McDonald's. He said that their margin of profit isn't that great. That's why they're only supposed to give you ketchup packets if you ask, because they destroy the profit margin when they give everyone 4 or more packets of ketchup. Now imagine what giving every minimum wage employee 2 extra dollars an hour would do? There would be less mcdonalds, and certainly fewer employees. Even still, there are fast food employees I encounter who I feel aren't worth 5.15 an hour for their service. Paying them 7.15 won't make them into better workers magically; however, I would assume their would be less of these positions; so now the incompetant worker you wanted to see "fairly treated" is now in the unemployment line, milking up tax money ineffeciently.

Here's a better idea, everytime YOU go to McDonald's, give the workers and extra $20 tip for their invaluable service they so sweetly earned.

I would also like to point out that the government is historically the worst business in history.
Posted by bobbo  on  Mon Apr 18, 2005  at  09:49 AM
not to mention $5.15 an hour isn't so bad until it magically turns into $3.89 an hour - Thanks Uncle Sam!!!
Posted by bobbo  on  Mon Apr 18, 2005  at  09:53 AM
bobbo said:

"Ok, I used to know a guy who managed a McDonald's. He said that their margin of profit isn't that great. That's why they're only supposed to give you ketchup packets if you ask, because they destroy the profit margin when they give everyone 4 or more packets of ketchup."

I find that to be highly unlikely. At the prices they charge, they're THAT close to losing money on each burger? In other words, even at a volume of billions, their WHOLESALE cost is only about three cents below their RETAIL price? If I was a McDonalds stockholder (and if that were true), I'd be very concerned about it.

"Paying them 7.15 won't make them into better workers magically."

However, on the other hand, somehow paying them the lowest wage allowable by law gives them LOADS of motivation?

Do you remember the "sub-minimum wage" that was proposed several years ago by the Republicans? They referred to it as a "training wage." It was going to be a reduced rate of pay for the first six months of a person's employment. Mickey D's was very much in favor of that. Guess why. It had a LOT to do with the fact that the average McDonalds employee doesn't last more than six months.

Their employee turn-over, like Wal-Mart's, is huge, in some stores exceeding one hundred percent annually (in other words, some positions turn over more than twice per year on average).

Is it just possible that, with an actual living wage, they might not have so much turn-over? Wouldn't that lower their costs? Maybe they could even afford to not ration the catchup packets. Gee, you might even see some more competant workers since they would actually have been at their jobs for more than a few weeks.

"I would also like to point out that the government is historically the worst business in history."

Government is not a business. It doesn't exist to make a profit, just for starters. Duh.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Apr 19, 2005  at  03:49 AM
Posted by Constance Williamson  in  Lexington, Kentucky  on  Tue Jun 21, 2005  at  07:58 AM
1) Please don't shout.
2) There clearly is a debate, as the last two pages show. Whether or not there needs to be one is a different matter.
3) It's hardly the first time jobs have been outsourced.
4) We'd be in exactly in the same place, but possibly less cholesterol-riddled.
Posted by Boo  in  The Land of the Haggii...  on  Tue Jun 21, 2005  at  08:05 AM
Posted by Constance Williamson  in  Lexington  on  Tue Jun 21, 2005  at  10:37 AM
There is a debate - people have been debating it on these very pages. Perhaps you should pay attention to what I'm saying.
There may not need to be one, but since I can see the proof at this very moment, it's ludicrous to say otherwise.

And again, it's considered rude to type in all caps - the online equivilant of shouting - and people are more likely to take you seriously if you don't.
Posted by Boo  in  The Land of the Haggii...  on  Tue Jun 21, 2005  at  10:44 AM

Posted by Constance Williamson  in  lexington  on  Tue Jun 21, 2005  at  02:46 PM
A debate is when two or more parties disagree.
Which has been going on for the last two pages.
You may be right, but that doesn't mean that there has been no debate.

Get over myself? I'm just speaking for all the people who appreciate not being 'shouted' at over the internet.

I've been nothing but polite to you, so I can't help thinking that my thinking of you as rude has just been confirmed.

I understand your point, but that's no excuse.
Posted by Boo  in  The Land of the Haggii...  on  Tue Jun 21, 2005  at  02:56 PM
Ok 1st of all i dont know who Constance Williamson is but McD is paying for the outsource servie they give to SEI. They pay a couple million every quarter. I work one floor below the outsourced copmany being talked about. 2ns the employees getting hired by SEI are getting paid more than 5.15 an hour try more like 7 dollars, most of the people working there are stil in High school. I have lived in ND my whole life if I cold have gotten paid 7 bucks and hour in high school I would have been in heaven, and the fulltimers get full benifits. 3rd lets talk about cost of living in ND is a hell of alot less than Cal. or NY. 4th the idea McD had on this was not to pay less but to cut stress on order errors that come through the drive thru and the amout of time you have to wait in the D/T and so far it has worked great for them. So for all of your bad mouthing hear are the fact and keep that in mind next time you pull into McD drive thru you might just be talking to me on the end of that speaker, and keep in mind that befause of me you don't have to sit on your ass in your car as long waiting for your big mac..
Posted by in the know  in  north dakota  on  Tue Jun 21, 2005  at  10:27 PM
Even if a McDonalds resturant is a franchise, they wouldnt exactly pay for a system upgrade, which is what this is. For example, Wendy's is in the process of replacing all their grills with new doublesided grills, but individual stores arnt paying for the upgrade, Wendy's Inc. is. They want to improve apon the the quaility of their meat and insure that it is cooked properly and served at the correct temperature, just as McDonalds wants to reduce the amount of incorrect orders. Im certain that McDonalds corperate will do the same thing, instead of requiring each store to pay for it.
Posted by Dts  on  Thu Aug 11, 2005  at  06:53 PM
I have actually worked on a similar project and I have something new you may want to consider.

The reason for doing it is NOT to save money on labor. Although they can spread out the talking to customers bit so that they don't need one person per store, It still takes somebody at the store to actually hand-out food, etc. Plus, there are expenses involved in running a call center, such as the location of the employees and infrastructure to make the connection, computers, and software to transmit orders back to the store (where the food is prepared and served). All things considered, it might cost slightly more to do it with a call center. Foremost among the reasons, is the desire to provide a CONSISTENT customer service experience. Imagine, one place where several people are taking all of the orders and being supervised in their work.

On a side note, keep in mind that McDonalds is one of those "for profit" companies and will probably abandon the idea if it doesn't seem to be working. As far as paying employees less, a similar project I know of is paying its employees the same rate as the store employee(which is low anyway, we're not talking about skilled labor).
Posted by JimmyD  in  Tucson  on  Tue Aug 30, 2005  at  03:02 PM
the technology would cost so much that i assume it would cost less just to have some one there. Think actually do something you have never done before they would have to buy the special equipment install it and possible shut down there drive thru service and then look for some in where ever and give them equipment to take the orders then send the orders back to the fast food place. And again "think" what if the equipment broke if its windows it will break. So no this is VERY VERY VERY unlikely to ever happen.
Posted by john  on  Wed Jan 18, 2006  at  07:19 PM
I work at a local Mcdonalds first of all. I am a salary assistant manager. I have been witht e same franschisee for the past year. We do not have this outsourcing crap. I just want to put to rest a few things. We do skimp on labor. The cost of putting out a DoubleCheeseburger(a double from here on out) is just as expensive as a DQPC(double quarter pounber with cheese) we dont sell many DQPC though. We seel alot of double, but when you make 5 cents profit on a double, you dont make a lot int he processs unless you sell alot. am we dont at MOST stores. Outsourceing would not make drivethru better. With a person taking your money and a person taking your order the people making your food communicate VERBALLY with the person you talk to. The only way to make this process better is to have SKILLED EXPERIENCED WORKERS working with you that communicate better. and yes if we payted more we could get more employees to stay long. But, we cant afford to do it. and also where i live is a beach a vacation area, which is automatically an expensive are. Therfore we pay 2 dollars more than the federal minumum wage. wqe pay 7.15.We have adults that make a living on our wages and htey live an hour away and communt EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DAY. everythign you all said is right and wrong at teh same fucking time, you guys make me sick talking asbout something you know nothin about. McDonalds has excenllent benefits...we just promoted 4 new manmagers in our store. The main reaosn people leave mcdoanlds is caus people like you tell them it is a shitty job to have. I can gurantee that 1/8th of all adult workers today have worked at or DO work at a mcdonalds. Thisa tell you that they earned as a guy said above "valuable career skills" People leave because they think it is a shitty job to have and leave cause they are whiny and bitching.
i have bee here a year and make already 10thou more a year than when i started.

if people would stay you would have faster service, ignoreing the need to outsoruceing(for the store that may do it) so....if the workers stayed longer, they would make more money and we would not have to outsorce.

DOES THIS MAKE SENSE PEOPLE or do i need to break it down further.

(and we do serve real beef grin)
Posted by brandon  in  Nags Head  on  Wed Jan 25, 2006  at  12:55 AM
brandon said:

"McDonalds has excenllent benefits."

Which apparently don't include paying for literacy lessons.

Are you claiming that NO McDonalds is using this long-distance drive-through thing? The fact is that at least a few Mickey D's in the Portland, OR area ARE using it (and possibly others elsewhere, too).
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Jan 25, 2006  at  01:08 AM
From Business 2.0 (magazine)'s annual 101 Dumbest Moments in Business:

33. It'll be even clearer when the accents are from Bangalore.

Several McDonald's outlets in the Pacific Northwest begin outsourcing drive-through functions to remote call centers staffed by "professional order-takers" with "very strong communication skills." Says CEO Jim Skinner, "If you're in L.A. and you hear a person with a North Dakota accent taking your order, you'll know what we're up to."
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Jan 25, 2006  at  05:22 PM
It makes sense from a language standpoint as well. Now McDonalds can hire employees that don't speak english with no problem because they could just be in charge of making and serving at the drive-thru window.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Wed Jan 25, 2006  at  09:38 PM
sadly most of you are not very well informed about most of this stuff...Yes we will be useing a remote drive has nothing to do with paying people less...its mostly to help out the small crew when they are short on people need help in a rush better handle the will cost us more the min wage in the long run...we will not be paying an hourly wage we pay by the order...its only being tested right now...we don't know if it will work out or should look in to what your talking about before you pass jugment...Mc donalds is a gteat place to work i've been with them almost 9 years and most of my crew makes over $7.00 an hour...they have been with me from the this time the store opened almost three years ago...not all stores run as good as mine and not all crew is as good as mine...but there are good ones out there...alot of them...don't pass jugment because the one store you have been in was ran poorly there not all like that...
Posted by Mc Anthony  in  San Diego  on  Thu Jan 26, 2006  at  11:16 AM
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