“Our menu is a disaster for both employees and the customer. It has killed our speed of service,” one franchisee wrote in response to the survey by financial services firm Janney Capital Markets.
“We need to get rid of a lot of products, too many Quarter Pounder versions, too many chicken versions, too many [full-size] wrap versions, too many SnackWrap versions,” another franchise owner wrote.
For the survey, Janney Capital Markets interviewed 27 domestic franchisees representing 219 stores. McDonald’s has 14,278 locations in the U.S.
Asked to rate their relationship with corporate management on a scale of one to five, franchisees gave an average response of 1.73, which is below the survey’s historical average of 2.2.
McDonald’s Chief Operating Officer Tim Fenton admitted in January that the company “overcomplicated” the menu “with too many new products, too fast” and “didn’t give restaurants an opportunity to breathe.”
“The McDonald’s operation was built on simplicity and efficiency and that no longer applies to a McDonald’s kitchen,” said Richard Adams, a former McDonald’s franchise owner and president of the consulting firm Franchise Equity Group. “The expanding menu is one of the reasons McDonald’s sales have flattened out domestically.”
McDonald’s U.S. same-store sales fell nearly 2% in the first three months of this year.
In an attempt to drive up traffic, the Oak Brook, Ill.-based burger chain began offering free coffee during the morning hours between March 31 to April 13.
“Giving away free coffee — what a brilliant, creative idea from the geniuses in Oak Brook,” one franchisee wrote in response to the survey. “Free coffee as of today has not brought in new sales,” another wrote.
“Oak Brook is lost and just wandering around,” said a third.
In addition to heavy promotional activities, franchisees — who operate 90% of McDonald’s restaurants — also complained about the company’s required kitchen upgrades.
“Upper management and supporting departments are out of touch,” one franchisee wrote. “We’re spending like crazy on new equipment. Very little return. We keep adding more products and expecting different results on service times. We are 8-10 seconds slower than last year.”
The upgrades are costing operators at least $US15,000, according to Blue MauMau, a trade publication covering the franchise industry. “That is a comparatively small one-time cost, less than 1% of an average McDonald’s restaurant’s $US2.7 million in sales, but franchise owners are concerned that the necessary downtime will affect them,” Don Sniegowski writes in Blue MauMau.
Franchisees will be meeting with corporate this week at the McDonald’s Worldwide Convention in Orlando.
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