Monday, October 27, 2008

McDonald's International Media Days 2008 (Day 1, Part 1)

The McChronicles is currently participating in McDonald's International Media Days. This event (the 4th of it's kind in recent times) is being held in various cities near McDonald's global HQ (near Chicago, Illinois, USA).

While some participants are focused on corporate financials, and while McDonald's is focusing in a variety of messages this week, The McChronicles is here for one purpose: "Chronicling the McDonald's Brand Experience From The Customers' Point Of View."

Stop 1 on Day 1 was at McDonald's Hamburger University. According to Wikipedia, "This corporate university was designed to instruct personnel employed by McDonald's in the various aspects of the business. Over 70,000 managers have graduated from the institution and it has 30 resident professors."

The first event was a question and answer session with top McDonald's corporate executives: Jim Skinner: Vice Chairman and CEO; Ralph Alvarez: President and COO; Pete Bensen: Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; Don Thompson: President - McDonald's USA; Jose Armario: President - Canada & Latin America; Dave Garland: Vice President & CFO - Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa; and Denis Hennequin: President - McDonald's Europe. It was quite an opportunity to listen to their prepared remarks as well as their answers to the media's questions.

(image 2: Don Thompson, Pete Bensen, Ralph Alvarez, and Jim Skinner field questions).

Jim Skinner actually said quite a few things that made it clear he is focusing on the customer's point of view. Among them:

  • Our customers think of us as their local neighborhood restaurant.
  • The moment of truth: the moment we interact with our customer.

He also discussed his corporate program, called "Plan To Win" , which emphasizes people, product, place, price, and promotion. This theme came to the surface during other presentations throughout the day.

The McChronicles has learned, through interviewing restaurant managers, that offering "friendlier" service is a corporate priority. Therefore, it was interesting to hear those exact words from Ralph Alvarez when he said, "We are friendlier, faster, and more accurate than we were five years ago."

Pete Bensen, corporate number cruncher, was aligned when he commented that, "At McDonald's, the most important number is number 'one' (a reference to an earlier statement that the customer is number one). If we don't get these 'ones' right, all the other numbers don't matter."

And on it went. Don Thompson saying things like:

  • We are, "strengthening our focus on the customer."
  • We want, "friendly service and fast, accurate delivery every time."
So, The McChronicles probed and asked the panel to describe specifically HOW all these words will eventually reach us - the customer. The McChronicles mentioned that executives aren't the people grilling and serving. We wanted to know how the crew will get this message and, most importantly, how they will be empowered to do what they know is the proper thing.

Both Jim Skinner and Don Thompson did a good job of describing how information and education are being created to enable store owners and managers to educate, train, and coach their crew. Later in the day more info on this topic arose when The McChronicles saw how processes, software, and even equipment are designed and built to make the crews' efforts more effective - with the two-part goal of making their time with the customer warmer and more friendly AND enabling their activities to produce more consistent food faster.

More on Day 1 in the next post (off to dinner now).

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

Images: The McChronicles.

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