Despite the wave of health-conscious trends sweeping across the fast-food landscape, many people still defiantly order the triple-bacon cheeseburger combo, not out of gluttony, but rather to mock their carb-counting friends.
For those saddened by McDonald's
All joking aside, the new format at Wendy's (which, incidentally, offers an array of salads and other menu options for the fitness-minded) is a great way for the company to leverage its superior drive-through service. In consumer surveys, Wendy's routinely scores top marks for speed and overall service, handily outperforming traditional rivals such as McDonald's and Burger King, as well as others including Checkers
Through my own personal research, I can attest that Wendy's is one of the select few places where I can reliably order a hamburger without the fear of biting into mayonnaise, which I loathe. Where other establishments ignore my request, or mistake it for a desire to remove all toppings whatsoever, the Wendy's screen reassuringly allows me to verify the accuracy of my order.
New drive-through-only places have popped up in diverse testing grounds such as Raleigh, N.C.; Austin, Texas; Milwaukee, and Atlanta. The smaller configurations are cost-effective, with less than half of the square footage and fewer employees. Early results have been encouraging, and a decision is expected by the end of the year on whether to roll out the format to franchisees nationwide.
Wendy's 5,800 traditional stores earned healthy same-store sales increases of 7.6% last quarter, along with record earnings. Expect to see this augmented by more of the drive-through-only locations going forward. Wendy's has a competitive advantage in this area and derives 70% of its revenues from the drive-through window. Consumers' tastes may change, but their desire for speed and convenience is a constant. As long as Wendy's can capitalize on this by keeping its service ahead of the curve, investors might find the company just as appetizing as its food.
Hungry for more on the fast-food industry? Try these:
- Push-Button Burgers at McDonald's? - by Alyce Lomax
- Jack on the Ball - by Seth Jayson
- It's National Burger Month! - by W.D. Crotty
Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter prefers Wendy's hamburgers, McDonald's fries, and Whataburger's ketchup. He owns none of the companies mentioned.