- McDonald’s and other quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are known to have frequent issues when it comes to their soft-serve machines.
- A software company called Kytch has a solution: a device that corrects for human error and helps machine users understand details of the machine’s behavior.
- The technology, first introduced in May 2019, is already being used at some locations of fast-food chains including McDonald’s and Burger King. Some franchisees say the device has changed their stores for the better.
- “After not having it, it’s almost scary to think about having shake machines without these, or soft-serve units without these devices,” CJ Timoney, a Burger King franchisee with eight restaurants in the Northeast, told Business Insider.
- “Providing a restaurant experience that our customers expect is among our top priorities,” a McDonald’s spokesperson said in a statement. “McDonald’s Corporation and its franchisees are constantly working together on improving and enhancing the restaurant experience so that customers can enjoy McDonald’s food where and when they want it.”
- Burger King did not return Business Insider’s request for comment on the technology.
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Soft-serve is a classic dessert choice to top off a fast-food meal.
But the machines responsible for making these tasty treats at fast-food chains like McDonald’s are notorious for constantly breaking down. In 2017, one woman even developed an app that told users whether the soft-serve machines at their local McDonald’s locations were working or not.
Though McDonald’s announced that it would replace its machines that year, issues have remained. When reached for comment by Business Insider, a McDonald’s spokesperson could not confirm any upcoming equipment updates.
Enter Kytch, a technology solution that is easing the problem by giving the older machines a software add-on that corrects unnecessary malfunctions and helps users understand what is happening internally.
“Everything comes back to being connected,” Kytch cofounder Jeremy O’Sullivan said.
He added that while the software doesn’t change the way the machine generally functions, it provides valuable information to the user that can explain what is happening when a machine appears to be broken.
Why the machines stop working
Many of the machines used in quick-service restaurants (QSRs) like McDonald’s undergo an automated cycle of heat cleaning that can last up to four hours, which accounts for a lot of the machines’ downtime. Though Kytch can’t stop this cleaning cycle from occurring, it can make sure the process occurs when it should and can correct for other mechanical issues that result from human error.
“We can tell if the machine is overfilled or underfilled,” Kytch cofounder Melissa Nelson said, offering one example of a seemingly simple error that can put a machine out of use for an additional three to four hours. Kytch picks up on mistakes like these and self-corrects them, thereby helping prevent an even lengthier shutdown period.
The device also has a predictive analytics component, to some extent. Kytch can synthesize data to predict whether a part of the machine is about to break and can tell whether an employee who is operating the machine is using the proper procedures.
McDonald’s and Burger King franchisees utilize Kytch
When Kytch was introduced in May 2019, McDonald’s and Burger King franchisees jumped at the possibility of a solution to one of the chain’s most talked-about issues. Kytch technology is currently used in a number of McDonald’s locations across multiple franchisees and in a number of Burger King restaurants as well.
According to Kytch representatives and franchisees with the device, individual franchisees and stores can opt to get the technology on their own, without assistance at the corporate level.
“Providing a restaurant experience that our customers expect is among our top priorities,” a McDonald’s spokesperson said in a statement. “McDonald’s Corporation and its franchisees are constantly working together on improving and enhancing the restaurant experience so that customers can enjoy McDonald’s food where and when they want it.”
Burger King did not return Business Insider’s request for comment on the technology.
‘This is a stressful job’
“From our standpoint, it’s unbelievable the amount of safety it provides to us,” said CJ Timoney, a Burger King franchisee with eight restaurants in the Northeast, all utilizing Kytch. “After not having it, it’s almost scary to think about having shake machines without these or soft-serve units without these devices.”
For franchisees, being able to oversee and manage the machines of several stores at once is highly beneficial. The device’s technology has also helped franchisees when it comes to satisfaction on both the customer and employee front.
“This is a stressful job, so if I can reduce unnecessary stress on the managers or the crew, then that’s a good thing,” said a McDonald’s franchisee who operates three stores in New York, two of which currently utilize the Kytch device. This McDonald’s franchisee asked to remain anonymous in order to speak frankly.
There is currently no push at corporate for the technology to be introduced to every store, though working with executives at that level is an ultimate goal for the Kytch team. And testimony from the franchisees about the success of the device is an important step in the process.
“It seems like some of the best innovations are started at the franchisee level,” Nelson said.