Before being named CEO of McDonald’s Corp., Chris Kempczinski laid the groundwork for what would be one of the most important investments the chain would make among its nearly 14,000 U.S. restaurants.
As president of McDonald’s USA, Kempczinski led the brand’s push to innovate — from accelerating the chain’s “Experience of the Future” remodels to investing in technology at the drive-thru with purchases like Dynamic Yield. The digital menu boards, installed in a majority of restaurants, offer a personalized customer experience, such as suggesting add-on items. The digital menu boards, along with a streamlined menu, contributed to improved speed of service for McDonald's during the pandemic. This year, the chain’s total drive-thru wait times decreased nearly 29 seconds, according to the 2020 QSR Drive-Thru Study by SeeLevel HX.
The technology investments have also helped McDonald’s meet the challenges of this year’s unprecedented pandemic, which left many brands reliant on off-premise sales. Kempczinski has made it clear in recent earnings calls that fueling growth at McDonald’s would largely be driven by giving consumers what they demand: easy and engaging digital experiences.
The relative newcomer to the restaurant industry joined McDonald’s in 2015 after stints at Kraft, PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble. Beyond innovation within the four walls, Kempczinski has pushed for a top-to-bottom cultural change at the company.
Over the summer, he unveiled a series of “do-the-right-thing” values inspired by the chain’s architects Ray Kroc and Fred Turner. Kempczinski and his team of new leaders said the brand’s refreshed goals would work towards dismantling barriers to economic opportunity, accelerating cultures of inclusion and enhancing efforts to attract and recruit diverse franchisees.
McDonald’s, he said, must lead by example.
“We also have to acknowledge that some people in our system feel like they haven't been given a fair opportunity. We've got to face up to that fact, and do better,” Kempczinski said.