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I don’t Understand McDonalds

I don’t understand McDonalds.

They are a restaurant chain that dominated the industry just a few years ago. They  are still  huge. They are still number one if you don’t let YUM Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long Johns Silver, A&W…etc) count as one. But they are not the force they were in the late 1980′s.

Those days McDonalds was not only number one in restaurant sales but they out sold 2 – 15 combined. They were the largest holder of retail real estate in the world. After they introduced chicken salads, they even sold more chicken than the Colonel. There was only six countries that drank more Coke than McDonalds sold. In fact – if McDonalds quit selling Coca Cola – Pepsi would immediately become the biggest soft drink company in the world.

They were the king of restaurants.

So what happened?

msdonalds golden arches

McDonalds Glasgow, KY

In my opinion they have tried to be everything to everybody. Their menu has gotten large and cumbersome. Their sales are drowning in menu items. Sure you can get everything from a taco called a wrap to a frappe but at what cost?

In the 1980′s McDonalds graded their stores A,B,C and F. One of the areas that contributed to the service grade was speed of service. The corporation would come in to a store, once a yea,r and do what was known as a Full Field. Part of that was timing service with a stop watch. To get an A, in speed of service, you had to average better than 40 second service times at the counter. 40 – 50 seconds got you a B. 50 – 60 a C and anything more was an F.

The stop watch started when the customer reached the counter and stopped when they left the counter.

When is the last time you had that kind of service at McDonalds? I would guess in the 1980′s. To do that now is virtually impossible because of the size of the menu. Dick and Mac McDonald knew this fact.

The brothers founded McDonalds in San Bernadino County, California shortly after World War Two. They carried a large menu that slowed service until one day they realized more than 80% of their sales were hamburgers. They streamlined the menu and what we now know as McDonalds was born. They later sold to Ray Kroc who also knew the secret of McDonald’s success.

It was after he died that the geniuses started playing with the formula.

I know many of us like many of the menu additions. I like the Cherry Berry Chiller. I like the chicken sandwiches. I like the salads. But I would trade them all for 40 second service times.

Can you imagine walking in to a fast food restaurant and walking out in less than a minute? You probably know the problem is you also have to wait in line. To get a C in service your line times had to average less than 2 minutes. So an acceptable level of service was three minutes, total, once you got in line. Just think about that?

How many times would you pick a  McDonalds, to eat, if you knew, worst case scenario, it was going to take three minutes to get lunch or dinner?

I would trade all the Cherry Berry Chillers for that any day of the week.

So why don’t they revert back to the times they were king?

That’s the part I don’t understand.


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