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Lean Thinking in Fast-food Industries

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Lean thinking or lean approach had been around for a while now, even though it did not have this name until recently, when it became popular. Lean thinking means that you are operating under the assumption that there is always something wrong to some extent with your company, meaning you always have to strive for perfection.  As suggested by the method this can be done by constant reevaluating of the product or services provided, and constant control of the improvements.  Originally this was used at Toyota factory under the title “Lean Manufacturing” , this particular thinking method can be applied not only to physical product and its manufacturing  process, but also to the service and the process of its delivery.  The versatility of the approach has been a cause of the name change from Manufacturing to Thinking; moreover, it is more of a mindset, which causes a constant assumption that the business is not performing as well as it could.

Essentially this approach is aimed at the highest efficiency and the perfect result with minimum cost. For a better understanding of the idea, I will provide an example on a fast-food industry, as this is the sphere, which always has a pace for improvement due to the nature of the services and products provided. Let us take McDonalds for a more detailed consideration. The goal would be to maximize customer’s satisfaction with the service without damaging the quality of the product at the same time, minimizing the working hours spent on that as well as other recourses if possible. Lean thinking can be applied to the internal processes, for example, garbage disposal or delivery system.  By maximizing the effectiveness of the processes that contribute to the overall result, we add up to the profits, which are significant to the internal economy of the business.

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Lean thinking approach to the garbage disposal would be lying in effective garbage cans placement around the kitchen. They should be located near operating areas where there is constant disposal of waste materials. On the restaurant floor where the trash cans are filled with empty paper glasses or boxes which are mostly made of paper or thin plastic, there is a person who is responsible for pressing the garbage in order not to take out air from those garbage bags every hour. In such case, garbage disposal would be unnecessary that often and all the garbage cans outside the restaurant would be filled with actual waste to dispose of, rather than half filled with air. If the garbage inside the restaurant would not be pressed together, it would take up much more space in the outside garbage cans. In return, it will become a cause for the garbage truck to come more often and drive away with half of the car filled with air. There is no reason to pay for the air to be driven out of town.  Every trip of the truck costs the restaurant additional money and it is a universal knowledge that “money saved is money earned”.

Hence, when pressing the garbage we ensure that we pay just for the actual garbage removal

Another example for lean thinking can be set by explaining the delivery mechanism of the products and supplies to the restaurants.  The most efficient way would be to establish a Distribution center as well trucks for the raw materials and supplies delivery, as McDonalds rarely purchases locally it sounds like the best option. For example, if there would be no centralized storage facility, dues to the minimal order requirements one restaurant would have whole truck of food packaging delivered. First, it would be costly, as napkins take up a lot of space in the car and overall delivery cost would turn out high. Secondly, there would be no space for storing the whole truck of napkins is the restaurant. Meat, on the other hand, is heavy and takes up not that much space, so the whole truck of  meat would have cheap logistics cost. There simply would be no need for and no place to store it. The combined delivery of both of these products will create acceptable and reasonable logistics cost.  If to add more products, the logistics efficiency will continue to grow to a certain point and no one but the company will be responsible for the goods not delivered on time.

To conclude, I would like to say that operating under lean thinking could be beneficial both to the organization and to the customer. The last will benefit from greatly improved quality of service and the customer loyalty will increase. At the same time, maximizing the profits by minimizing the expenses on the production of goods and the services provided. This way of thinking that has recently became popular is also a great tool in differentiating the company from the competitors; however, it should be always kept in mind that other companies might also make decisions in favor of this approach. Maximization of the even minor details of the production and service delivery will greatly contribute to the overall profits, both through the increased customer loyalty as well as maximization of the earnings per hour. With every day improvement and development appear in modern technology there is always a room for improvement and maximization of the profits. 

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