McD’ed-up. A Rant.

July 8, 2003

McDonald’s planned to spend $1 billion over five years to tie all its operations in to a real-time digital network. Eventually, executives in company headquarters would have been able to see how soda dispensers and frying machines in every store were performing, at any moment. After just two years, though, the fast food giant threw in the towel.

I read through “McBusted ” about McDonald’s failed Innovate project and I’m really wondering if they will even be around in 10 years. Now people said the same think about Apple, but with this whole Obesity problem in America and just poor service in their franchises, will they stick around?

I think when the first tobacco lawsuit happened, most people laughed and thought it wouldn’t ever see the light of day. Now it’s a common occurrence to see someone winning billions because they can’t see the little warning label. I suspect we will see someone winning a lawsuit against a fast food joint in less than 3 years. It will be nothing more than falling dominos after that. I know Coke is scared…they have a huge initiative in planning to help curb child obesity….similar to what the tobacco companies did in the 80’s with massive educational programs. But I digress. McDonald’s could, quite possible, be sued into oblivion.

The Obesity lawsuits are just one problem McDonald’s has. The article talks about the massive problems with service inside the restaurants. People are going to places for healthier food, Subway , Qdoba’s, Blimpie, all make their food in front of the customer and do so faster than most burger places get a frozen patty out the door. Getting people motivated is their largest problem. How can you get a 16 year-old making jack squat, to clean a bathroom when they don’t even do that at home? How can you get someone who has never worked a job before, to just work and not talk to the other staff while customers are waiting? Wal-Mart roughly pays their employees the same amount, but they spend time with motivation and building that person as a person and not a fry cook.

I can walk into a Chick-Fil-A anytime of the day (except Sunday) and step foot into a clean restaurant, order a hot/good/fresh chicken sandwich and get it in less than 2 minutes, sit down in a clean seat, and use a clean restroom. The staff is plentiful and they mostly seem happy. I’ve witnessed a few times when the front area was packed, but everyone didn’t wait too long on a meal. I’ve been in a McD’s and waited three minutes on a coke. The difference? C-F-A respects their employees. Truett Cathy give back to his employees and to his community…while McDonald’s gives a couple of scholarships.

I was involved with a large customer relations project, years ago, and the leader of the group was the former director of customer relations for Disney. He stated that McDonald’s is no longer in the fast food business, but in the toy business. Every big Disney movie that comes out, has a huge commercial about a Happy Meal. People run into those stores to just get that toy…and at times ditch the food. These people will still wait in line, dealing with bad service, just to get a toy for their child or a collection. McDonald’s has lost marketshare, but it’s these toys and things like the McRib that keep them afloat…actually Kids probably account for half their business, right now. Coupled with what I talked about above, child obesity, makes them a huge target on more than one front.

As people get healthier and busier, McDonald’s will have to evolve or die. Healthier foods, better service, higher quality products are why people are moving away from MickyD’s. The technology initiative was one way they could have evolved on the business side….innovation made McDonald’s a huge corporation. But the human side, is where the real innovation exists.