A Business Lesson from McDonald’s

Hi ho,

I’m writing to you from the McDonalds which is right beside Kings Cross Station in London.

I don’t like hamburgers and I don’t like junk food. As a matter of fact, these days I’m virtually a vegetarian and I hardly ever go near meat products, especially red meat. So how come I’ve just decided to have my lunch here?

The area around Kings Cross – and the station itself – is jam packed with cafes, restaurants and fast food outlets. Interestingly, many of the fast food outlets here appear to be opting for a more healthy menu. There’s also a certain international theme going on and many of the places are specialising in providing dishes which come from places like Mexico and Japan. I think these are all very positive developments.

The idea of having a healthy meal appeals to me enormously but instead of eating healthy I’m here in McDonalds and, yes, I went for a Big Mac meal. Shame on me.

But here’s the deal – I’ve been pacing up and down for around 20 minutes trying to decide where to eat. I even went into a few places and tried to order. But for one reason or another, I couldn’t do it. There was even a couple of places whose menus were so complicated that I had to leave. Don’t get me wrong – their food looked great but I just didn’t know how to order. It was all just a bit too complicated. There was another place I went into – a nice little French cafe – that looked nice but alas, they didn’t accept credit cards. Idiots.

It just happens to be the case that the only place which can meet my demands right now is Mcdonald’s. All of those other places – every single one of them – have failed to give me what I want. McDonald’s is the only place in the whole area where I can do all of the following:

I can be sure of getting a seat
I can pay with credit or debt card
I can be sure of getting a reasonably priced, hot meal
I can be confident of high standards of cleanliness
I can enjoy clearly priced, easy to understand menus
I can be confident that there are no hidden costs in their menus
I can be assured that there are toilets
I can relax and know that I’m not going to be hassled by staff who might otherwise be eager for to leave and free up their seats

What’s particularly interesting, to me, is the thought that McDonald’s isn’t necessarily the cheapest place in the area. I could have gone to Starbucks and picked up a sandwich and a tea for less than the cost of a Big Mac Meal. I bet it would have tasted better and been more healthy. But that didn’t happen because the Starbucks at Kings Cross doesn’t have seats.

Another interesting observation is that as I look around the various tables here I see smart, successful looking people doing business. Some of them are on laptops, like me. Some of them are talking on mobile phones. To me they all look like movers and shakers. There is not a single overweight person in the whole place. McDonald’s is not for losers nor is it for fat, financially challenged junk food addicts. I’m beginning to think that the people who use the Kings Cross McDonald’s are just ordinary hard working people like you and I who don’t have time to get messed around.

So, I think there’s a couple of interesting things to be learned from this. Those other food outlets should take note.

When people are hungry and perhaps slightly stressed out, they do NOT want to be messed around. They don’t want to have to use their valuable brain cells trying to figure out how how exotic business models work. They don’t necessarily want or expect dirt cheap either. All they want is just a simple, honest service. Something that is stress free.

All those other fast food places could learn something from McDonald’s, and before anyone tells me that some of the other places happen to be very successful, I’d have to point out the fact that there are currently two entirely seperate and distinct Mcdonald’s outlets at Kings Cross. No other fast food outlet has managed that – not here at least. So I’m here at McDonald’s and as I look out of the window and across the road guess what I can see? Yes – another McDonald’s.

I think the thing which has made McDonald’s so successful is not the low price or the quality of their meals (yuck!) or even those free plastic toys. It’s efficiency. That’s the difference. I’m absolutely sure of it.

So, indeed those other food outlets can learn from Mcdonald’s. I’m sure we can too.



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