Sunday, July 24, 2005


The McChronicles spoke with a multisite McDonald's owner recently. We were told these interesting tidbits:

1) the total units of chicken-based items sold is expected to exceed the beef-based units sold in September 2005. This would mean that McDonald's would become a predominantly chicken store (versus a hamburger store). We are looking for information on this to verify if it is true.

2) the new Premium Chicken sandwiches (joining their line of Premium chicken selects and salads) went on sale this past week. While advertising will start on 02 August, the soft introduction has already begun.

3) the corporate-wide "reimaging" program, mentioned in an early-2005 corporate press release, (where corporate subsidizes part of the mandatory appearance upgrade) is hitting a few snags. It seems that the few approved vendors for certain critical items (lamps were an example given) are unable to keep up with the huge demand for new hardware. this means that several stores are getting part way into their reimaging, only to find that they can't expect delivery of critical, approved items until way beyond the expected completion date. Expect to see semi-reimaged stores for the balance of 2005. Photo by Todd McInturf, The Detroit News

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Premium On Premiums

McDonald's has been working hard to bolster their Premium menu in 2005. According to a recent corporate press release that appeared on 19 July and quoted Ubong Ituen, McDonald's Sr. Director of Menu Management, we can expect to be enjoying a line of Premium Chicken Sandwiches in 2005.

The press release stated, "Beginning August 2, McDonald’s - the nation’s leading seller of chicken sandwiches - will debut three new Premium Chicken Sandwiches in restaurants nationwide. The Classic, Ranch BLT and Club join McDonald’s growing premium chicken portfolio, which includes Chicken Selects®, Chicken McNuggets® and its Premium Salads. ".

Expect the advertising for the Premium Chicken Sandwich to begin in late July, the sandwich to be released on 02 August, and look for a free sampling program to run from the 11th to the 14th of August (coupon for free fries and a drink with the purchase of a sandwich).

The Premium Chicken Sandwich follows the Fruit & Walnut Premium Salad, introduced in May of this year. McDonald's expects to offer Premium Roast Coffee in 2006.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

McDonald's Rules The Blogosphere

Market research company Umbria Communications has released results from a recent study. One major point stands out: 41% of all fast-food mentions in over 10 million blogs mention McDonald's. This is more than twice as many as the #2-mentioned fast food purveyor mentioned. CMO Magazine's website provides a little data from this report (chart copyright Umbria Communications).

It is clear that people (especially bloggers) are tuned in to McDonald's. The McChronicles feels that it is due to their #1 position in the industry and because people expect so much from them. McDonald's has built an awesome brand, one that so many subscribe to. Their performance is now PERSONAL in so many ways.

The McChronicles genuinely hopes that McDonald's upholds the awesome brand they've created and delivers billions and billions of positive experiences for investors and for customers.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Not Pretty By The Bay

A McChronicles mission sampled the atmosphere in a San Francisco McDonald's this week. What was found was really irksome. While the store was well posted as being in the midst of a renovation, it was still a dump. Unrelated to the wallpaper upgrade was the overflowing garbage, cleaning equipment, and a stack of food supplies sitting out in the open, blocking the stairs , for the entire duration of the visit.

Part of any dining experience is the ambiance. This McDonald's offered hardcore reminders of the seamy underside of any restaurant and put a wet blanket on a much-anticipated meal.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

South Utica, NY Delivers On The Promise

Line Wait: 45 seconds
Order Wait (one hamburger, small Coke): 45 seconds
Cleanliness: Good
Service: Good (a bit impersonal)
Quality: Good
Time: 1PM

A quick visit to the Genesee St. South Utica restaurant offered some great experiences on the day before Utica's biggest event, The Boilermaker. The store looked super (it offers a spacious, open view of the nicely-treed intersection of Genesee St. and the Memorial Parkway, right on the route of the continent's largest 15k race).

During this visit we were treated to good fast food, and we also got to enjoy one of life's most beautiful moments. We witnessed a mom and her two kids enjoying a relaxed lunch as they sat, face-to-face, with a huge fish tank. Not only did the kids (guessing ages were 9 & 7) enjoy the bar stools and the fish (remember how cool this was when you were a kid?), the mom really seemed to find some inner peace and satisfaction. She had a great time with her children and she flashed a very contented smile several times as she watched both the kids and the fish.

That's what it is all about! She deserved (and got) a break today, she got change back in her pocket, the kids eagerly opened their Happy Meals, they all had a brief vacation from life's realities. The McDonald's brand was bolstered today for this family, and for the McChronicles team that was blessed to observe this special moment.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

New Hartford, NY Had A Bad Day (amended title)

The birthplace of the McChronicles. The muse of our angst. So recently feted for being awesome. So quick to fall from grace.

The McChronicles hosted a focus team of 16- and 17-year old boys for lunch at the Route 5 New Hartford store today. In short - DISASTER!

First impressions:
  • very messy
  • non-crew-appearing person doing some form of clean-up, shouting, not really cleaning anything

LINE WAIT: 25 seconds

ORDER WAIT: 90 seconds

ORDER ACCURACY: one order entered properly (on receipt) delivered erroneously (wrong meal)

At 2PM, with very few people in the dining room, the place was a complete mess. One person (disguised as a non-uniformed person) was seen moving mop & bucket, and a broom around, eventually abandoning them in the aisle. He spent a lot of time talking very loudly across the room to the other crew, and to a few customers. Nothing got cleaned during our 1-hour stay. In fact, the place got progressively worse.

Cleaning supplies piled up, there was literally NO CLEAN PLACE for our party of 4 to sit. When the clean-up person noticed the drive-thru line backed up right to the highway (with cars observed bailing out of the line occasionally), he announced, to no one in particular, "Holy S@#*, the drive-thru is backed up!" At that point one of our group commented, "It isn't this wacky in Home Depot, let alone in any restaurant. Why should we have to eat in these conditions?"

The focus group seemed insulted and angered by the mess, by the disrespect shown to the patrons, and eventually by everything that wasn't good. Your basic snowball effect.

You Look Mahvelous!

The Chicago Sun Times reports that McDonald's is looking to update their uniforms. Yes!

And, in a related comment, the
Motley Fool website rightly states, "...if McDonald's really wants customers to think of its restaurants as hip, its most powerful weapon may be its employees. "

The McChronicles recently hosted a focus group of teenagers at a McDonald's lunch. As the group watched a crew member exit the store, the discussion turned to the uniform. Laments of, "I'd like to work somewhere where the uniforms are cool", were heard. The consensus was the McDonald's uniform is NOT cool. The point? This exact topic jumped right out at the meeting - unprovoked. McDonald's is on the right track with the change.

Bottom Line: take care of your employees and they'll take care of your customers.

Friday, July 01, 2005

And The Winner Is ...

Congratulations to our friends from The Netherlands who were the first to get "The McChronicles" to appear on the Flickr image section of the McChronicles. As you will recall from a previous posting, the McChronicles offered a prize for the first person to get our name to appear on the image service we use in our left-hand column. Here it is, in full color, the 2nd picture from the top. Yes, its small, but trust us, its the real thing - and we LOVE it.

Please check out our winner's awesome fast-food blog, titled "
Fast Food Weblog". The proprietors of the blog are also experienced and savvy owners of fast food restaurants in Holland.

Thanks, and congratulations, Jan-Willem!

New Hartford, NY Looks Great!

Several recent visits prove that this restaurant exhibits consistency in order and thematic quality. One McChronicles observer stated that, "if someone told you that you were in a city bistro, you would believe it."

Good job New Hartford. Keep the maintenance up and pay attention to the floors. You've got a good thing going.