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BUSINESS FEATURE: Cranking up the drive-thru
Upon walking in, one finds a relatively small restaurant, albeit a stylish one.
The McDonald’s off Millstream Road in north Langford may well be a modest-sized eatery in terms of seating. But when it comes to doing business, especially via the drive-thru, this hidden gem hits a home run among its 16 peers spread around Greater Victoria.
“On average we have about a thousand cars a day coming through,” says Rhonda Glowasky, general manager of this location and the one inside the Langford Walmart store.
As if that statistic isn’t enough to raise the visitor’s eyebrows, she proudly tosses out an equally impressive one: “Our average service time from order to driving away is 128 seconds.”
With its drive-thru accounting for roughly 75 per cent of its sales volume, this outlet ranks number 1 on the Island for McDonald’s in that category, and maybe even tops in B.C., says Aaron Chisholm, operations supervisor for five area McDonald’s stores owned by franchisee Ken Taylor.
“In this day and age you have to be able to deliver a quick and fresh product,” Chisholm says.
As a way to upgrade its service and address the continuing trend toward drive-thru over walk-in traffic, the Langford restaurant installed a new dual order point drive-thru in May. It allows more vehicles to move through the process, and while they merge into one lane, the overall amount of time spent in line is reduced, Chisholm says.
“We’re aware of the anti-idling (concerns), but we find there’s far less stop-and-go traffic this way.” he says.
The new system has increased its Island-leading numbers by about 100 cars a day, Glowasky says. “Quality and speed and their top two motivators,” she says of drive-thru customers. “They choose us because they know we’re fast.”
The Colwood McDonald’s on Island Highway more recently installed the dual system and has lowered its average service time to 145 seconds. The hope is to increase its usage as well, Chisholm says, but that outlet has a different dynamic than Langford, with a higher percentage of people going inside for service – the PlayPlace is an attraction for families, he says.
For the Langford location, opened in 2001 before Millstream Village was constructed, the expanded drive-thru area was part of a complete update of the facilities. They hosted a grand reopening July 25 and 26 and unveiled new, comfortable seating, tasteful wood and granite accents and special touch-play screens for the kids, among other features. The weekend events saw the store record its biggest single-day sales to date, says Chisholm, a 20-year McDonald’s veteran who helped open this restaurant.
For Glowasky, who has been with McDonald’s 21 years and worked at 10 different restaurants, including eight in Greater Victoria, the renovations were the fourth she’s gone through as a manager.
“I remember the banks of plastic flowers that were put up at Pandora (Avenue McDonald’s),” she says, sitting at a large booth. “Now we have rock and glass and tile, we’ve got WiFi, with plug-ins. It’s almost an Internet cafe type of thing.”
She points out that the relatively quiet Thursday morning crowd this day is rather different than the more hectic weekend atmosphere, when customers zip in, often between activities.
Then again, the majority of those people are in their cars.