Fast-food industry tests outsourcing


Published: January 26, 2009

CHARLOTTE – A fast-food giant has been trying to determine whether it’s easier to place your drive-through order with someone around the world instead of around the corner.

Jack in the Box Inc. has been outsourcing order-taking for some Charlotte-area restaurants to a call center elsewhere, testing whether the idea could improve efficiency.

Company spokeswoman Kathleen Anthony said that the technology is intended to improve speed, accuracy and service. Jack in the Box, which is based in San Diego, hopes the process will free up on-site employees to process orders and accept payment.

“It is something we’re testing, not something we’re necessarily committed to at this point,” said Anthony, who wouldn’t discuss the results of the Charlotte trial that began in the middle of last year.

Anthony said that the orders are routed to a Texas call center operated by Bronco Communications, and she said some orders may be routed outside of the country.

Restaurants including McDonald’s and Wendy’s franchisees have tried centralizing orders but neither has used the program nationally because they have found it difficult to prove that it saves money, said Sherri Daye Scott, the editor of QSR Magazine, a quick-service restaurant-industry publication.

Customers in Charlotte have noticed heavy accents among order-takers only to find different workers at the drive-through window.

“I had noticed it (several months ago), but I just thought the person taking the order was somewhere else in the store where we couldn’t see them,” customer Elizabeth Banks said. “It never occurred to me they might be out of the country.”

Kate Mosteller, the marketing director of Exit 41, which focuses on off-site order taking, said the technology can help eliminate barriers between customers and employees who speak different languages. But it can also be difficult to match order-takers with customers who may have different dialects or expectations.


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