: So McDonald’s is in trouble.
They haven’t been paying attention to their customers. They haven’t been keeping up with trends. They haven’t paid attention to details. They have done some dumb things.
A few months ago, amid huge hype and magillions of dollars of marketing, McDonald’s introduced a new chicken flatbread sandwich. It was good. It was so good, I started going to McDonald’s again. My wife, a McDonald’s hater, even liked it. The thing sold like crazy — even sold out in the first weeks. Life was good. I could eat fast food again and not feel as if I’d just subtracted another month from my already-too-short life.
But recently, out of nowhere, McDonald’s dropped the item.
So they wasted magillions of dollars of marketing and product development. They pissed off new customers. They showed themselves to have no clear strategy. They lost sight of the trend for freshness and against frying in American food. They screwed up. No wonder they are in trouble.
: Many years ago, when I was a columnist in San Francisco, McDonald’s opened a huge and very fancy restaurant over on Van Ness and I reviewed it (an idea you see all the time these days; then, I swear, it was slightly fresher). I had complaints about the place and immediately my bosses got a letter from Ray Kroc himself, complaining that I was a “codfish aristocrat” (that is, a snob without portfolio or bank account).
I called Kroc. I explained that, back in those days, I was a fan of McDonald’s. I ate there up to five times a week (sad, I know). I loved McDonald’s. But Mr. Kroc, I said, this restaurant just was not up to standards. They aren’t following your creed of Quality Control, I said. He begged me for details. He thanked me. We ended up friendly. And the restaurant got better.
Ray Kroc paid attention to the customer. He paid attention to details. He paid attention to the world around him.
When a company stops doing that, the company will fail.