As one of the most popular and easily recognizable brands no matter where you go on Earth, McDonald's is just one of those companies that you expect will stay on the up-and-up forever. I know that I have a tendency to pick on McDonald's all the time, but it's mostly because they are so large and yet still so flawed that it makes it incredibly easy to prove my point: they're a company so focused on growth, and they believe they have growth down to a science, but they fail to see how trends are changing with the times and with the wants of the consumer.
An easy example of this blatant arrogance was when McDonald's attempted to boost same-store sales (revenues) in the United States by simply making select breakfast menu items available all day long. It used to be an accomplishment for me on the weekends to be awake and out early enough to get a breakfast sandwich at McDonald's before they switch the menu to lunch. Now you can get your Egg McMuffin fix anytime!
While McDonald's global same-store sales rose by 2.7% in 2016 -- much higher than the 1.4% gain anticipated by analysts -- domestic (US) same-store sales actually declined by 1.3% in 2016. This is a clear indication that the bigger breakfast menu did little to boost the optimism of American consumers.
I, of course, have my own theory as to why domestic sales are lousy for McDonald's, but apparently the company has their own theory behind the failure.
Nowadays, I rarely go out of my way to eat at McDonald's. Usually it happens when I have no other options, and this usually happens when I'm waiting around at an airport or staying at a hotel and a McDonald's is the only thing within walking distance. The last two times this occurred, I was at the airport in Hamburg, Germany and at an airport hotel in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Your entire meal can be ordered electronically at a giant touch screen, as a result all of the employees are busy preparing the food to-order, rather than mass producing a bunch of food only to heat it up a bit when the customer wants it. International quality standards are far different, so the food tastes a million times better. Additionally, if you order to eat-in, a server will bring your food to your table and that is literally the only interaction you'll have will another human at McDonald's (if you choose so).
Raising the minimum wage won't increase the quality of these workers in the US -- they're being replaced by robots in all international locations and sales there have skyrocketed. I remember walking into a McDonald's in Jersey City, New Jersey, being the only customer waiting, and yet it took several minutes for a staff of 5-people to stop telling stories and acknowledge that I'm there.
While I truly believe food quality is a huge problem with catering to the customer, perhaps eliminating unpleasant employees, paying the managers slightly more, and making all ordering electronic is really the way McDonald's can maintain its prowess in the United States. Who knows, it might work.
You may also find this article from Bloomberg quite interesting.
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