McDonald’s sales and earnings have been falling.
So far, the fast food giant’s turnaround strategy hasn’t improved business. January sales declined 1.8%.
Chief executive Don Thompson abruptly announced his retirement. The brand’s new CEO, Steve Easterbrook, will start March 1.
McDonald’s needs to make some major changes to bring back the American consumer, former brand executive Larry Light writes in the Wall Street Journal.
Light used to be the CMO at McDonald’s. Today, he works as a consultant.
Here are a few of his ideas.
1. Focus on the real competition.
Many experts have theorized that McDonald’s is being threatened by fast-casual competitors like Chipotle and Panera Bread.
But Light notes that these more expensive brands are not direct competitors to the fast food chain.
“For McDonald’s, the class is quick-service hamburger, chicken and sandwich chains,” he writes.
To win back customers, McDonald’s should focus more on what other fast food chains are doing.
2. Speed up service.
The McDonald’s name is often associated with bad customer service.
Attempts to hire more people and improve corporate training haven’t helped — McDonald’s drive-thru wait times are at a record high.
Light expresses concern that the new build-your-own burger program will exascerbate the problem.
McDonald’s is trying to position itself as a “better burger” chain, testing a program that lets customers build their own sandwiches with premium toppings like fresh jalapenos, bacon, and avocados. The burgers take an average of 7 minutes to build.
“McDonald’s sees customisation as magical brand elixir,” Light writes. ” Slow service, in an effort to provide customisation, won’t save the McDonald’s brand.”
3. Trim the menu.
In order to succeed, McDonald’s needs to focus on doing a few things really well.
Brands like In-N-Out burger thrive by nailing a few menu items.
McDonald’s menu has ballooned in recent years, as the brand adds healthier items like McWraps and smoothies.
“The McDonald’s menu now has more than 100 items, which makes it harder to run the restaurant and harder for customers to decide what to order,” Light writes. “It complicates the supply chain. It complicates employee training.”
McDonald’s can succeed again by showing more discipline in its menu.
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