Business

McDonald's Canada promises burger with choice by 2017

McDonald's Canada is overhauling the way it does business, adding self-service kiosks and bringing table service and dedicated wait staff to its restaurants.

30 different toppings to be on hand, along with wait staff

McDonald's Canada is promising a choice of 30 different toppings for your burger by 2017. (McDonald's/ Associated Press)

McDonald's Canada CEO John Betts says lining up to pay for the same old burger will soon be a thing of the past.

The company is overhauling the way it does business, adding self-service kiosks and bringing table delivery and dedicated wait staff to its restaurants — and hiring 15,000 people in the process.

The new kiosks will allow customers to personalize their orders as McDonald's adds a premium-priced burger to the menu with nearly 30 different options including five types of cheese and a dozen different toppings.

Betts said McDonald's is giving the modern consumer more options in a world where on-demand services such as Netflix are gaining huge popularity through personalized experiences.

"It used to be uniformity, reliability, consistency, now everybody's got their own way of connecting with the world," he said.

The new burger will feature a one-third pound beef patty and sell for $6.99, 60 cents more than its current most expensive burger, the Mighty Angus.

McDonald's counters will be remodeled to separate ordering and pickup into two sides, he said, divided by a glass case featuring the company's new bakery items.

"We're basically blowing up the front counter."

Betts said each restaurant will need to hire 10 to 15 people to fill new roles, including a greeter who will guide customers through the ordering process and new chefs to make the more complex made-to-order meals.

Customers who use the self-serve ordering system to get those personalized goodies can have their orders delivered directly to their table, and Betts said more employees will be needed to deal with the food delivery and clearing.

"We're looking to match and exceed other restaurant experiences in terms of the personal interaction," Betts said.

Betts says most of the 1,400 McDonald's restaurants in Canada will be changed to the new ordering format by 2017.

Australia introduced the so-called create-your-taste kiosks and the expanded customer service team earlier this year, he said, and early results have been promising.

McDonald's American head office has been looking for a way to offset declining sales as consumers look beyond the burger for their fast food.

Betts said Canada has avoided many of the challenges of the American market, where new alternatives such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Five Guys Burgers and Fries have grabbed market share.

In early October, the American restaurants will introduce all-day breakfast, a widely requested expansion of the company's menu that has yet to be adopted in Canada.

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