"Clearly, the U.S. is a burning priority," said McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook at Sanford C. Bernstein's Strategic Decisions Conference in New York on Wednesday.
Calling it the "early days" in its bid to reverse several quarters of weak U.S. sales, Easterbrook said that the burger giant is already seeing "an acceleration in new product innovation" from franchisees. Recent efforts by McDonald's to refranchise hundreds of restaurants in the U.S. have put more power into the hands of franchisees, allowing them to create new menu items based on local preferences.
The hope is that innovation begins to attract customers who have increasingly gravitated to "better burgers" from fast-food chains such as Five Guys, Restaurant Brands International's (QSR) Burger King and upstart Shake Shack (SHAK).
TheStreet takes a look at three things McDonald's is focusing on to right its ship in America.
1. Fixing the drive-thru
In the U.S., 70% of McDonald's sales are derived from the drive-thru. However, this key area of the business has been plagued in recent years by slow service, borne in part from the yawning size of the menu. Now, McDonald's is beginning to refine its menu. Easterbrook said McDonald's is increasing the number of U.S. restaurants offering two side-by-side drive-thru stations to ease traffic. A new scaled-down menu board will also be put in place, which should help hurried customers choose their food more quickly.