We're used to a certain level of service when we visit fast food places. We're not expecting silver service but we should get good professional service. Today, the speed at which the food's made isn't as important as the quality of the product being served to you. When you visit a McDonald's for example or a KFC, you wait a while for your food but you will have ordered it pretty quickly using a touch screen menu which takes away the long queues and you'll expect your food to be prepared much better than it was in the past when you could never be sure just how long the Big Mac had been sitting waiting to be bought.
Franchising is supposed to mean that you can go into any well-known fast food place and expect the same quality of food and service. Of course, that's not a realistic expectation when each restaurant is owned and managed separately. Some franchise holders are more interested in a quick buck than good service so they'll cut corner. One of the most obvious signs that you're in a bad example of your favourite fast food place comes when you visit the toilets. If the toilets aren't regularly cleaned and the paper towels aren't replaced often, do you think the work surfaces in the cooking area will be properly sanitised? What about the coffee machine? Will it have been cleaned through regularly? Are all the hygiene standards being met if the area in most obvious need of regular cleaning, isn't being looked after?
A more subtle sign that things aren't well comes if you buy a kid's meal. If you're not given whatever toy is on the current promotion and you're getting last week's promotional material, perhaps the restaurant's not as popular as expected. If they're handing out old toys, are they also using less than fresh ingredients as demand isn't keeping up with supply?
We hit a fast food place for fast food but we don't want instant food, do we? Instant food is something made a while ago that's been waiting to be bought. Nobody wants that, do they? A burger that's been kept warm won't be as tasty as a dress one. The lettuce will be warm and droop down from the burger. The sauce will lose some flavour as it congeals on top of the patty. More of the cheese will stick to the wrapper. It's a similar story for the fries. They won't be overcooked as they're taken out when they're done but they'll be harder, not as warm and nowhere near as nice if they've been left on the side for the next customer.