Taco Bell is a chain of fast food restaurants. The operations in the early 1980s, Taco Bell production process had been designed to use low technology and traditional ways. We can see that in the early 1980s, a manual process communicated orders to crew members assembling the prepared ingredients into the menu items. Besides, the head of cashier operating a mechanical cash register was a piece of Plexiglas and a grease pencil. In the early 1980s, Taco Bell also had no drive – through windows. These are mentioned that Taco Bell was not concerned on the technology in the early 1980s. Actually, the technological innovations are very important especially it is reaching to a technology century. A lot of things are depended on technology. Technological innovation can lead a company to the way of success. What is technological innovation? According to Oxford Dictionary, technological is relating to or using technology. According to one definition innovation is defined as “the intentional introduction and application within a role, group or organization of ideas, processes, products or procedures, new to the relevant unit of adoption, designed to significantly benefit the individual, the group, organization or wider society (West and Farr, 1990). Therefore, technological innovation is a new method, idea and product that related to the technology.
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The technological innovations that were introduced also lead the successful of Taco Bell operation. Technology can support with the distribution of information across different department of a restaurants and between different levels of staffs. The fast food firm Taco Bell uses technology to improve access o knowledge, facilitation of employee empowerment and resulting in a flattening of management. In using the technology, Taco Bell expect to reach productivity improvement , product freshness, speed of service (SOS) and the provision of services that are right first time. All of these are the aims that Taco Bell using the technology. Productivity improvement, product freshness, speed of service and the provision of services are very important facts especially in the fast food industry.
Electronic Point of Sale (POS) System
One of the technological innovations that were introduced is the installation of the electronic point- of- sale system (cash register). Electronic point- of -sale system is a computerized equipment that performs all tasks of store checkout counter. It allows verifies transactions, providing sales reports, coordinates inventory data, and performs several other services normally provided by employees. In Taco Bell, the electronic point of sale systems were tied to television monitors on the assembly line to indicate what have been ordered. Before this, a manual process communicated orders were used to order. Manual process communicated orders will decrease the speed of the service. Speed of service is important in fast food industry liked Taco Bell. It is because the speed of service will affect the satisfactions of the customers toward that restaurant. Installation of the electronic point -of-sale system will give a lot of benefits to Taco Bell. The electronic point-of- sale system can allow the chain to track product mix and eliminated the Plexiglas boards. This can let the others to know that what the different products is Taco Bell sells. The others can see the menu through the screen of the television. This system can bring the convenient to the customers.
Besides that, the computer screens mounted above the lines were linked to the Point of Sales (POS) system and automatically indicated the food products for customer. After that, order assemblers would get the food or those items that the customers ordered or requested from the staging and deliver those items to the customer. After delivering the items to the customers the order assemblers only needed to push a button to remove the order on the screen. The POS systems is an in- house database server processes all sales transactions it receives from the client. This is bringing convenient to the customers and the workers. POS system is really very useful and gave a lot of benefits to the fast food industry.
Drive thru is also becoming popular in many of quick service restaurant. Taco Bell also has the Drive Thru. In early time, Drive Thru of Taco Bell was not convenient to the customers. It is because Drive Thru order at that time tended to take longer due to the limited point of contact crew members had with drivers in contrast to the more flexible points of contact possible across the in – store counter with multiple registers. After that, Taco Bell had implemented outdoor order boards where a driver would speak to the restaurant through the intercom. The company was testing a handheld computer board which was radio-linked to the POS system and could be used during rush period. This Drive- Thru can increase the competitive and compete with the other fast food restaurant liked MC Donald. Compared to Taco Bell, MC Donald has Double- Drive Thru .There are some modifications of the technological system that can help customers and the restaurants to efficiency speed up the delivery and transactions within the premises. The customers also can order using the websites menus and choose a pickup time while placing the order. The order may link to the POS system directly. The food is packed and kept ready in an innovative take out packet. The customer arrives at the designated time and parks at the reserved take out parking space. An outside camera captures the arrival and alerts the restaurant staff who would bring food to the customers and take credit card payment on the spot.
Service- line Extensions
Service -line extensions. Service innovations pertain to extensions of already existing services line. It was necessary to add this intermediate cell since the nature of the services clearly fell between the major innovations and service and style improvements. The customers are closer to the service provider yet utilizes different service delivery mode. There are smaller units mostly providing self-service outlets using brand names of their major business concept. Taco Bell is using co- branded units. It consist one location providing different menu choices with common seating and other consumer conveniences. Although limited menu items are offered the service is fast and convenient.
Store system (Chilling and Freezing)
Technological innovation also is supporting food production in the fast food industry. In the early year, Taco Bell used a low technology. This means that Taco Bell did not use the store system such as chilling and freezing. Store system choice is a vital part of selecting efficient freezing and chilling system for long term use. Chilled food should be distributed under controlled conditions. Chilled food should be maintained at or under 3°C. Chilling method is suitable for storing the vegetable liked lettuce, tomatoes and so on. Freezing is a food service system by storing in controlled low temperatures. The temperature is mostly under 0°C. Freezing method is suitable for storing the raw beef meat or raw meat. Chilling and freezing are important to maintain the freshness of the food ingredients such as vegetable, meat, fruits and so on. The food can aware from the bacteria or virus and the food cannot infect by the bacteria easily. This can ensure the food safety and maintain the quality of the food. Besides, this system may reduce the wastage of food because the food may not rotten easily.
TACO (Total Automation of Company Operation)
Information technology has far from played the role in this fast food aspect. Performance and quality was improved by POS system because the customers will receive the right change and food ordered in the faster manner. Besides, POS system is not only improves the relationship with the customer, it also can gain more hand in the relationship with suppliers. Through the years, a better and better inventory control was adapted by Taco Bell. For the fast food industry, inventory control also plays a very important role. The kitchen is the most important department for a quick service restaurant. The kitchen will need a lot of ingredients for making the food. Therefore, the inventory control is needed in the kitchen .The problem such as running out of the ingredients liked lettuce, chopped tomatoes or other ingredients will happen in the restaurant. Running out of the ingredients could have a significant impact on the speed of service in the restaurant. With a better inventory control, Taco Bell does not have to store vast amounts of unused food or decrease service when stock ran out. To improve inventory control, a direct link between stock limit and suppliers could order food automatically. This is not that hard to implement since all the food processing is done at centralized places. Many other industries have what is frequently known as fly-by point. This is started in John Martin first year, 1983, started with a point of sales (POS) system that helped track sales. A system called TACO was built that used the POS system and made the information more useful. These can help a regional manager could predict future sales and view the inventory based on the all the POS system in the regional manager area. They do not need to go to each of the Taco Bell in their area to determine the sales and inventory. They can take the decision making to lower level with TACO II perked up the just- in- time inventory system even more.
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Taco Bell can also use information technology to make additional improvements in operating efficiency and expenses. Because of the consistency in production methods from one restaurant to another restaurant, improvements made in one location are likely to benefit other Taco Bell locations. For this factor, efficiency improvement efforts that produce positive results should be logged into the TACO II system and stored in a central database. The system should be designed to scan actual results, identify opportunities for improvement, and automatically forward potential solutions to the appropriate restaurant. This would provide restaurant with a much more comprehensive and timely list of ideas than the current system of communication.
Labor- Management System (LMS)
Integrated labor- management system as an integral part of TACO, the company could take advantage of and accelerate the deployment of the software and hardware to the field. The new labor- management system is a standard component of a comprehensive restaurant- management system. Its franchisees and licensees could manage labor in a consistent manner across the entire system. The result of the Labor management system would be reflected in higher consistency of service, satisfaction of customer and brand equity. The labor management system also had to serve as an efficient and effective in store labor management tool. It helps restaurant managers to arrange and plan the shift of employees. It can help the restaurants manager to determine who should begin to work and how long of the works. This system can help the managers to save the time to arrange the work shifts. All the works can be done quickly and efficiency but not time consuming.
Toll- free Telephone
The next interesting technological innovation is about the safety nets. With the removal of layers of management and frequent supervision of restaurants, the new controls were required to ensure and adherence to standards. These are called safety nets. One of the safety nets is the 1-800 numbers. The 1-800 number was a toll- free telephone number customer could call to comment on the restaurants. Toll- free numbers allow the callers such as customers to achieve business or individuals without being charged for the call. The charges for using a toll- free number is paid by the caller party (the toll-free subscriber) liked Taco Bell instead of the calling party. Toll- free numbers are very common and have proven successful for a business including fast food industry, particularly in the areas of customer service and telemarketing. We can say that toll-free service provides potential customers and others with a free and convenient way to contact the business. This can be considered as a service to the customers. This toll- free telephone is a stage or channel to give the customer to express their unsatisfying to the Taco Bell and give comments to the restaurant. Commonly, Taco Bell restaurant will receive the feedback such as “the restaurant is very dirty”, “the tacos are too spicy” and so on. This technological service can lead the company to know which places the restaurant needed to improve because the customers were given their comments to the restaurant. The number 1-800 or the toll- free telephone had the opportunity to become a customer relations vehicle, connected to ideas such as service recovery and marketing research as much as the maintenance of operational standards. Many customers will satisfy with this toll- free telephone service because the restaurant can let the customers to complaint. After the complaint, the restaurants have the opportunity to improve.
Other safety nets included a toll- free number that employees could secretly call to report abuses within the restaurants and controls such as electronic comparison of revenues from the POS system and individual store bank deposit through Taco Bell. In the workplaces, a lot of employee abuses and control issues will happen. This can cause the employees work under the full of scare and stress environment. The employees can use the toll free telephone to report the abuses within the restaurants and controls. The employees of Taco Bell can protect their own rights and preventing themselves from the issues of abuse and control. This toll- free number not only give the channel for the customers to provide their opinions and complaints but also give a channel for employees to report the unethical things that happen in the restaurant. The Taco Bell employees will satisfy their jobs and they can work in the Taco Bell without worry. This can improve the operation of the Taco Bell restaurant. It is because the employees will do their work seriously. The operation of the company will be improved if the employees can cooperate with the company. This is also a point that let a business success.
According to Nation’s Restaurant News of year 1994, Taco Bell Corporation’s chairman and chief executive, John Martin had been chosen to receive the first-ever Nation’s Restaurant News Innovator Award, saluting the major innovations that he had introduced in recent years. The NRN Innovator accolade, sponsored by AT&T Global Information Solutions recognized Martion for his role as an architect of the quick service segment’s value marketing revolution and for his organizational, technological and cultural innovations at Taco Bell. After the leading of CEO of Taco Bell, John Martin in the technological innovation, Taco Bell is lead to the way of success. The award also proof that Taco Bell is achieving the success. The technological innovation can help a lot in maintaining the operation in the restaurants such as maintain freshness of raw material, employee works shift and so on. It is bringing the satisfaction of the customers, convenient, increasing the speed of service, reduce time consuming and so on. Technological innovation can lead Taco Bell to survive in the strong competition fast food industry. Taco Bell can continue using the technological innovation to enlarge the business and become the largest fast food restaurant.
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