Fresh off the story of a young woman who was fired from McDonald's after paying out of her pocket for a group of firefighters to eat, I stopped by my neighborhood store. My goal was to purchase a Medium "Micky D’s" sweet tea. When I pulled up to the window and paid for the drink I was handed an Extra Large tea. “I only ordered a Medium,” I said. She looked at me like I was another nuisance in her day and replied, “Look, they all cost the same thing! Just take it!” Then I got that look that you get when someone thinks they are smarter than you.
An article in USA Today last spring proclaimed: “McDonald’ is reinventing breakfast.” It discussed how the fast food giant was reeling from the absence of Millennials (young adults age 20-29) in its retail outlets. The members of this huge generation are buying less and coming in less every week. They want breakfast at other hours when McDonald’s switches the signage and won’t sell hash brown potatoes, Egg Mcmuffins or hotcakes and sausage. They want healthier choices in menu selections. They want free WIFI to communicate with family, friends (and each other in the restaurant). They want the focus on them.
Sadly, McDonald’s is in desperate need of reinvention… and not just at breakfast. The leading fast food restaurant chain in North America is slowly but steadily losing ground to competitors like Burger King, Chipotle, Subway, Taco Bell and Wendy’s Hamburgers. Wendy’s “reinvented” its menu and hamburger ingredients in 2011. They overtook Burger King as the second largest hamburger chain in 2012. McDonald’s stock shares have declined for almost two years.
What went wrong?
McDonald’s lost public perception when famous food warrior Jamie Oliver exposed the use of “pink slime” in February 2013 (Pink Slime: According to MSNBC, “Besides being used as household cleaner and in fertilizers, the compound releases flammable vapors, and with the addition of certain acids, it can be turned into ammonium nitrate, a common component in homemade bombs. It’s also widely used in the food industry as an anti-microbial agent in meats and as a leavener in bread and cake products.”).
Their workers complain that not only is their pay unfair, but they have been discouraged by the company from eating the food they serve daily as unhealthy for them. In a December 2013 report published by the UK Daily Mail, Columnist Ryan Gorman wrote, “The fast food giant has advised employees to avoid meals with burgers and fries and to eat healthier options like salad and sandwiches. The advice was dispensed on the now-infamous ’McResource Line,’ the employees-only website that has told workers to sell their things and get second jobs to make ends meet.”
Things aren’t much better outside the stores either. The drive-thru lanes (often double lanes) servicing is slower than ever. While the company blames the wide variety on their menu, consumers complain about inattentive workers and orders not being fulfilled accurately and timely (McDonald’s drive thru lanes are best known for the “waiting area” nearby for orders which are not completed on time). Many patrons complain that they are left forgotten while other orders are given priority (a practice the hamburger chain initiated years ago called “Stacking orders.”).
CEO Don Thompson was brought on board to lead the burger giant in 2012. He is finding it a rough job. Met with young people, parents and reporters questioning the direction and choices the corporation makes in products, options, service and management, Thompson is attempting to reinvent McDonald’s.
Now it’s your turn: Where do YOU think McDonald’s needs to reinvent itself to remain relevant to you as a customer?