If the customer is always right...

... then McDonald's should listen to me,
and certainly not the government, the fat police, or guys like this:

source: Forbes




Panos Mourdoukoutas Contributor
I cover global markets, business and investment strategy

When McDonald's Rise Again, Will It Still Sell Burgers And Fries?

McDonald’s will rise again. But it may no longer sell burger and fries, at least not the kind of burgers and fries it has been selling for years — learning a lesson or two from Shake Shack and Chipotle.
Investors focusing too much on McDonald’s recent history of sluggish sales reports—including one thisweek–are missing out on the company’s several competitive advantages: scale, scope, networking, and location, as discussed in previous pieces here.
These advantages will help the company rise again, provided that its leadership comes up with the right menu to address emerging consumer trends.
That won’t be easy, however . It will require a radical change in the company’s business model, beginning with the way it prepares and serves its traditional menu of burgers and fries.
Here the company can learn a lesson from Shake Shack and Chipotle.
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Alright McDonald's here's some advice from a real customer:
First of all, no American business should ever listen to a guy with seven (count 'em) vowels in his last name.  Hell, the entire alphabet only has six, counting the letter Y.  Saying that McDonald's  could "learn" from Shake Shack or Chipotle is like saying that Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky could have learned from a rookie at the height of their careers. 
 I have never eaten at (or for that matter, even noticed a Shake Shack or Chipotle's), but I don't know anyone who hasn't eaten at McDonald's many times.  There are people who say they have never eaten at McDonald's, and those people are called liars.  I used to frequently eat at McDonald's but now I seldom do.  Making the changes that I suggest below is what it would take to win me back as a regular customer.
Don't listen to anyone who doesn't eat burgers and fries, or more specifically, fast food burgers and fries.
Accept the fact that things are never going to be like they were during the '60's through the end of the twentieth century.  That era will be remembered as the easiest period of human existence and will more than likely, never be repeated.  During those good times you were able to try to be all things to all people and it worked, for a while.  Now, be happy with the money you made back then, and make the necessary adjustments to survive in the future.
Stop listening to anyone who complains about the healthiness and nutrition of your food. There isn't one fat person in this world that wouldn't be fat anyway if you never existed, and the hairy armpit, lesbian vegans were never going to eat at any of your establishments anyway. (Lucky for you.)  Go back to serving the market niche that allowed you to become the nationwide giant you are to begin with.  
Cut costs. Simplify your menu.  Eliminate at least half of it.  If Dave Thomas were alive today, that is exactly what he would tell you to do.  Get rid of the salads and multiple chicken entrees.  Close down your least profitable locations.  Increase automation to head off those who favor ever increasing the minimum wage.
Take those savings and pour them into increasing the quality of your food.  Focus on making great tasting burgers and never give one thought about their fat or calorie content.
Adopt an "In your face, we don't care" attitude and direct it towards anyone who ever criticizes you.  It should be patently obvious by now that none of the people blaming you for making fat slobs, fat, were offering constructive criticism.  They only want to see you fail because they envied your success.
Bring back the foam boxes which you used to serve your food in - just to piss off the people who didn't like it.  Once again, they weren't customers of yours anyway.
Market yourselves towards traditional Americans.  There are plenty of others willing to cover the nontraditional American market.
Finally, either get rid of Ronald McDonald, or at least, make him less creepy.  Burgers and fries will never go out of style, but clowns were passe by the 1960's.

10 comments:

  1. You're right about the quality of the food needing to be improved. I used to like McDonald's burgers way back when and their fries were the best until they stopped cooking them in tallow or lard and changed to vegetable oil. They even had half way decent fish sandwiches back in the day. Now they're pretty tasteless. From what I remember, they went from haddock (my favorite) to cod and now probably pollock, which is the cheapest, most bland of the whitefish. And yes, Ronald is pretty creepy............................

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    1. "I used to like McDonald's burgers way back when and their fries were the best until they stopped cooking them in tallow or lard and changed to vegetable oil." You are 100% correct about this. It was the secret to McDonald's fries being the best in the world. They should have kept the fat content up in their ground beef as well.

      McDonald's problems stem from listening to people who don't have their interests at heart.

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  2. And all this is based on a seriously flawed study linking cholesterol to heart disease. Rabbits were fed a diet high in animal fats. Their arteries became clogged and they died. Well, no shit, Sherlock. Rabbits are 100% herbivore and have no way to process fats. Before the study was debunked, the powers that be, and I think it was George McGovern in particular, jumped right on this and changed the dietary guidelines and told us that animal fat is very bad. Naturally they wouldn't admit that they were wrong. Humans need animal fat in their diets. Cholesterol is a precursor in the production of testosterone. That's one of the reasons that vegetarian and vegan men are usually a bit on the girly side. And as to fast food making people fat I call bullshit. It's more the over consumption of many types of food with a lack of exercise that makes people fat. Well, I gotta go now. I hear my double pepperoni and sausage pizza calling. Even at 61 years old I need a testosterone boost now and then..............

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    1. Did you ever notice that studies will come out condemning our normal way of life, get a lot of press coverage, but later studies that repudiate them, are ignored.? That's why people still believe that vaccinations cause autism, second hand smoke is dangerous, fat in your diet is dangerous, the earth is warming because of the activities of mankind, etc. What we have here is an irresponsible mainstream media, who is also responsible for the election, re-election, and unbelievably high approval rating of the worst president in U.S. history.

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    2. Amen to that...........

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  3. Of course the customer is always right - but you (and I) are part of a declining demographic in their customer base - and the old fart who wrote the article is part of a growing demographic. I dunno about you - but when I go into McD's I am seeing more and more seniors. They HAVE to worry about their health; and I suppose that is why Rotten Ronnie is rolling out the red carpet and health food for them. It has had benefits too - I remember the day when you could clean a severely fouled rifle with their coffee. Today they make excellent coffee and I even prefer it over the swill coming from Tim Hortons. McDonald's still cares about us; if all you want is a quick burg to fill the hole at lunch time Rotten Ronnie is still probably a viable choice, and is easily interchangeable with Burger King or one of the other fast food factories.

    But the fact is that if we indulge our higher thought processes, and free our minds of the clutter and rot of the day-to day... McD's can never do what customers like us would want. One of the fundamental errors we have made is allowing the fast food factories to reduce the noble burger to a 'sammich'. As you state, a burger should be a BURGER, and a real burger is serious business - not an occasion involving kiddies and clowns.

    A man's burger should be about celebrating the joys of being a man: the burg should be cooked to your specifications, and your order should be taken by a smoking hot 20 something with a smile that can make an older man feel young. You should have time to sink a beer and a half before it arrives. The atmosphere should be classy enough that you can entertain either your hunting/fishing/golfing buds or your wife as you eat. A burg should be a reward or an indulgence - not a 'product' to be manufactured as quickly and cheaply as possible.

    McD's can't help us with any of that; but there is an entire 'boutique burger' industry that can - and Rotten Ronnie knows it. They can never compete with Fat Burger, 5 Guys, Earls, The Heart Attack Bar & Grill, etc.

    Perhaps we should be thankful for that too..?

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    1. Oops! I hit the comment button rather than the reply button. See my reply below.

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  4. OK, so we're a shrinking demographic because we're getting old and dying. That doesn't mean that other demographics don't like a good burger and fries. McDonald's just has to accept that there are going to be more choices out there from now on, and learn how to be profitable at as a little bit smaller company. Back in 1960, no one ever thought that McDonald's would get as big as it is today. Now. they just need to adjust a little to fit in the current market. McDonald's will likely become a little smaller, but more profitable company. If you told McDonald's executives and investors back in 1960 that their company would grow to the size it did but then, had to downsize a little bit to increase profitability, I don't think that anyone would have had any problems with that. In fact, I think that they would have all been overjoyed.

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  5. I'm sorry Neil - no offense meant. I'm just thinking out loud about all this and you are probably 100% right.

    I actually saw a documentary on McD's that just boggled my mind - you probably would have liked it as well... The exec they interviewed told the reporter that they now make the Big Mac (on average) 11 seconds faster now than they did back in the 80's. It doesn't sound like a big thing until you consider all the ramifications to the organization - take that 11 seconds and multiply it by millions of burgers a year. That resulted in the 'dual intake' drive thru. As volumes went up, the machinery involved had to change right in the restaurant. As all the restaurants got faster, the guys in the warehouse/distribution had to change too. They had to buy their own trucking lines and install the infrastructure to support that. Then they needed to change the way the trucks were loaded and needed a couple new mega-warehouses to facilitate that. Increasing demand and reduced production time and costs even forced entire feed lots to bow down to Ronald McDonald...and the guys could put dollar amounts to all of this. It was amazing.
    The only point I was trying to make is that if their only concern is profit - and it seems to be - and they think that they can get it by catering to a different clientele than guys like us...they probably know what they're doing. The market is changing, the competition is changing, and McD's have entire teams dedicated to customer input and tracking...I would love to be a fly on the wall at their marketing strategy sessions.

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    1. You have an excellent point there. I think in a way, McDonald's has become a victim of their own success. We take the fact that they're going to serve us quickly, for granted. Think about the words "fast food". Whatever the critics say about McDonald's, they would have to admit that McDonald's delivers on the "fast part". For people in a hurry, that is more important than anything else. If McDonald's is smart, they will be able to survive well into the future, simply because burgers and fries are about the fastest of fast foods, plus it is about the easiest meal to eat while riding in a car. No silverware required.

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