As a kid I loved McDonald’s, there was nothing better than visiting my favourite fast food restaurant as a “special treat” with my family if I had been really good and I can still remember when one of my best friends was lucky enough to have his Birthday party at one, complete with Ronald McDonald. I even remember the first ever “drive thru” McDonald’s opening in my local area, some of the more well off kids in my School were taken down to the all-new fast food experience that night and sat happily in the car park eating away like something from one of the American movies that we were all brought up on. As I got older my love for McDonald’s grew, but not just for the food, great value and amazing customer service I also loved the brand and the business, love them or hate them when you order a McDonald’s you know exactly what you are getting, how much it will cost and it will be with you almost instantly, the brand and continuity across the company is so strong that you can order a Big Mac in Australia and it will be no different to the ones they are serving up in Manchester.
Last Summer I took my family of five over to Florida for two weeks and whilst there we visited the biggest McDonald’s in the world, the kids loved it, as did me and the Mrs, the customer service was amazing, food was great, service was quick and the place was as clean and tidy as any of the other McDonalds I have visited in any other country. The place was packed with families from all walks of life sitting down together eating an affordable meal, in a family restaurant having fun and chatting amongst themselves, something which sadly, you don’t see in life as much as you used to.
When I arrived home I decided to look into the McDonald’s story of how it all started and became so successful, I started by reading up on the McDonald’s brothers and discovered that in fact that was a milkshake machine salesman named Ray Croc who was responsible for the global success of the brand, after reading his biography cover to cover it turns out that the McDonald’s brothers never wanted the “hassle” of franchising their first restaurant after being approached by Ray although were happy for him to go out and do all the hard work, to date the McDonald’s empire that Ray built now have over 34,000 restaurants in 119 countries making it the world’s largest restaurant chain and were all built around the same values of the brand, a family restaurant to suit everyone’s pocket with great food and amazing customer service.
As a lifelong fan of McDonald’s I was horrified to visit my local restaurant recently after its latest “makeover” on entering I was ushered to a touch screen self-service bay, after reluctantly pressing buttons I was they asked to wait, all of a sudden I heard
“number 46” ?
I ignored this as though they may be playing bingo, then, there it was again,
Louder this time with a young girl staring at me?
I asked if I could help her and she said, “are you number 46” to which I replied
“I am not a number, I am a free man” she didn’t get the joke.
I was handed a tray of food by what could have been mistaken for a robot and then looked for somewhere to sit with my Mrs and kids, then I heard,
“Daddy can we sit on the IPADS”
To my horror as I turned around was a few kids themed tables with IPADS on? Of course we sat as a family instead and talked and laughed together whilst enjoying our food just as Ray Croc would had wanted but before leaving I had to ask the manager when had McDonald’s turned into a machine and what were all of the IPADS about?
She replied “the IPADS are so that the kids can sit there and play on them and the adults can sit over there and get some peace and quiet”
When I told her that I think Ray Croc would be turning in his grave she replied
“Who is ray Croc ?”
I left not knowing whether I would ever visit the restaurant again and the whole experience really upset me that she didn’t know who the founder of the business was and I have sent a copy of this month’s column to McDonald’s and await their response although in the meantime how can WE improve as traders learning from others mistakes?
Business isn’t just about a great concept or idea it is about working hard to make things happen. Understand your brand and what your business values are. ALWAYS put the customer first, speak to them, make them feel valued as without them there literally is no business. I try to read one book a week and learn from the best, “Grinding it out” is Ray Crocs story and well worth a read! Keep in touch.