Monday, January 29, 2007

BusinessWeek McDonald's Cover Story

Check out the very interesting video on the website.

The magazine article is refreshingly positive (heck - you WOULD expect the people at BusinessWeek to recognize a good business, right?), and provides some pretty interesting insights. For example:

  • Over the course of an average day, 1,500 people—the equivalent of 1 out of every 16 people in the middle-class suburb of 24,095—drive in to the Garner (North Carolina) McDonald's.
  • The $21.6 billion company now feeds a record 27 million people every day, 1 million more every year since 2003.
  • McDonald's dominates mornings. It owns a quarter of the $25 billion market for fast-food breakfast.

Then check out the accompanying slide show

And there's even a podcast available (these BusinessWeek people have really got the communications thing sewn up!).

The video and article promote a fun, online quiz, too

All in all, BusinessWeek has provided a very insightful glimpse into McDonald's.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McChronicles (thanks to McChronicles fan, Tim, for sharing his copy of BusinessWeek).

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Beijing's 1st McDonald's Drive-Thru

Big excitement in China last week!

McDonald's opened Beijing's first drive-thru restaurant on Friday, 19 January 2007 to great fanfare.

McDonald's has experimented with drive-thrus in China in the recent past. The McChronicles has been fortunate to experience some of the activities - more than once. Given the burgeoning middle class (replete with new cars and places to go) and the drive-thru is a guaranteed success in China.

But hang on. While this is McDonald's first drive-thru in Beijing, the company already has "15 other drive-throughs in China, in Shanghai and the southern cities of Guangdong and Shenzhen" according to an article published in US NEWS & WORLD REPORTS website.

The article goes on to say, "McDonald's speeded up its plan to open drive-throughs (sic) in China after seeing strong demand at the first, which opened in December 2005 in the southern city of Dongguan near Hong Kong. '
We thought we were two to three years early, and once we opened it, we thought we might be two to three years late, because of how successful it was,' Schwartz said." (McDonald's China CEO Jeffrey Schwartz).

The McChronicles' experience with China McDonald's drive-thrus reveals that the local element includes some "extra help" for customers who may have never experienced a drive-thru before. An extra crew person mans a window, ready to answer any questions. Excellent!.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: AP Photo/NG HAN GUAN

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mega Mac

According to an article in Japan Today, McDonald's is launching the Mega Mac. The article is dated 12 February and it says the promotion (availability) will run to 04 February. It reportedly sells for 350 yen.

In a 17 January follow-on article Japan Today tells us, "... that sales of the new Mega Mac for the first four days since its debut have far exceeded the expected amount of 1.68 million burgers with 3.32 million sold."

"Mega Mac, a hamburger with four patties, was originally to be a limited time offer, but the fast food chain announced that it will extend the period in order to meet the demand."

800,000 Mega Macs per day. Wow!

The Mega Mac has a history in Japan, Canada (called Double Big Mac there), and in the UK (among other places). The McChronicles closes this Mega Mac report with two YouTube videos that clearly indicate that people find this sandwich both amusing and difficult to eat.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: Japan Today.
Videos: YouTube.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Woodbury Common (not so common) McDonald's

There is a very high-end outlet mall just north of New York City called Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. The McChronicles enjoyed perusing the Wikipedia entry for this facility. The aerial photography gives a good sense of the size of the place.

McDonald's fans will be pleased to hear what is common about Woodbury Common: it has a pretty typical McDonald's in the food court. This restaurant boasts multiple plaques for Outstanding Manager - Mr. Manuel Medina (2001, 2002, 2004) , has a photo display of their Employee of the Month (strangely only 8 months are listed), and offers a seemingly clean & happy crew. The McChronicles noted an abundance of smiles and camaraderie during our visit. The order area seemed oversized (perhaps it is designed to handle the huge crowds that occasionally deluge the place) - and the interior only seats 22 people. There is an outer McDonald's seating area that accommodates 40 more diners. And then there is the common food court area, too.

So, we shopped on, enjoying all that this huge, upscale mall had to offer, when we were confronted with something we'd never seen before. Something we call Woodbury UNCommon. We encountered a McSnacks!

This tiny "shop" reminded us of the small kiosk McDonald's we frequent while in China, Singapore, etc. This particular store occupies a tiny sliver of a building (approxima
tely 100 square feet). Service was outdoor counter only.

And, most UNCommon, is the fact that their very limited menu includes NON-McDonald's products. The 2 items that we've never seen sold at a McDonald's are: Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, and Klondike bars.

Googling "mcsnacks" we learned that there is at least one in Baltimore, MD, USA, one in Bergen, Netherlands, and a bunch of uses of the term to describe generic, fast-food snacks.

What a fruitful trip!

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
es: The McChronicles.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


McDonald's subscribes to the QSCV motto: Quality, Service, Cleanliness, and Value. In fact, that's what we, as consumers, have been sold for years. So why do we rarely ever receive the entire package?

Right before New Years The McChronicles dropped into a local McDonald's that was offering Egg Nog shakes on their sign.

Problem #1: The reason we were doing this is that a friend was complaining that, in spite of the promotions for the Egg Nog shake, he had received a slew of excuses from various McDonald's in the region as to why they didn't have them. He actually began dropping into every McDonald's he passed, trying to get this product. On our travels we noticed a store-specific sign, so we took our friend there for the shake. This store had them - and they were awesome! Excuses instead of product is bad service.

Problem #2: We arrived in the evening. The drive-thru was slow, and there was one other small group eating at a table. The place was empty. The dining room was just short of a shambles. Dirty floor, newspapers and debris on tables, the condiment area all messy, garbage overflowing. This is poor cleanliness.

Sadly, this seems to be getting more and more common.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McChronicles.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Presentation Counts

If it happened only once it would be easy to overlook.

When it happens repeatedly it is perceived to be OK with McDonald's. In fact, after enough repetition, it IS the product.

In this case The McChronicles has received another sandwich (Filet-O-Fish this time) packaged in a greasy, smeared cardboard clamshell. The fingerprints are particularly appetizing.

Assuming that presentation matters, we'd like to see this completely eliminated. It's so wrong, and it conjures up bad images. In fact, it kind of falls into place with the constant drumbeat of (often unfair) attacks on McDonald's. Kind of like throwing grease on the fire. It reminds us of:

Hey, WE didn't start this. The people who handed us the fist-full of grease started it.

After so many repeat performances, we imagine that some people hold it in their hearts that a McDonald's sandwich IS food within a smeared, greasy box that you really don't even want to hold in your hands. That's called "brand". Is it the brand that McDonald's has worked so hard to avoid? Yup.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: A grossed-out McChronicles.