Friday, July 23, 2010

Chipotle takes steps to speed service

Chipotle has established a new serving-line position as part of stepped-up effort to handle more customers during lunch and dinner rushes.

The expediter scrambles to complete a patron’s order—adding the drink, grabbing some chips or extra guacamole, bagging to-go items—so the cashier can focus on ringing up the order. Executives explained to investors yesterday that the set-up speeds service because the cashier now handles only the sales transaction, instead of juggling that function with finishing an order.

The high-flying burrito chain is also trying to handle more customers during crunch periods by ensuring that all prep work is completed before the rushes hit. Instead of chopping or slicing, staffers can be on the line, handling orders.

Executives said the production of stores is being boosted without an increase in labor costs through more astute scheduling and deployment.

They were less forthcoming about another new initiative for the chain, Burritos by the Box. They declined to answer questions about the Box, a program for handling bulk orders.

According to earlier press reports, each Box contains six identical burritos or burrito bowls, along with containers of guacamole, sour cream and salsa so the items can be customized before being eaten. The Box order, which also includes six bags of chips, is reportedly selling for just under $44, or roughly $7.30 per person.

The program was being tested in Las Vegas and California.

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