In case you haven’t heard, McDonald’s is in business trouble.  They are laying off people at headquarters, cutting its menu and changing tried and true cooking methods in an attempt to overcome lagging sales.

Analysts say that the quintessential American chain has failed to adapt to consumer demand for more upscale and healthier food, and it has fallen behind in the trend toward customization, where people select the precise combination of food and toppings of their choosing.

To combat this, McDonald’s has developed the “Create Your Taste” program, which allows customers to select their style of bun and list of toppings for their burger.  I am sure someone had to bite their tongue to keep from saying it allows consumer to “have it their way.”

The Burger King folks have to be amused by this turn of events.  They took a jab at McDonald’s new plan with the following slogan emblazoned on their bags: “Freshly prepared for you since 1954.”  

I think the McDonald’s idea is a bad move.  Once the stalwart of consistency and efficiency, McDonald’s is now promoting special orders — something their standardized delivery model is ill equipped to handle.  They are predicting a 5 to 7 minute wait to accommodate personal choice, so future customers can add “poor service” to the list of what ails the McDonald’s business model.

Burger King has been doing personalized orders with speed for decades.  For McDonald’s to jump in the game at this point doesn’t make sense to me.  

If you are struggling, improve what made you great or develop something new to reinvigorate you.  But don’t copy the strategy of your chief competitor who has a 60 year head start on perfecting your foray into their area.

— beth triplett

McDonald’s to trim menu, examine ingredients by the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, December 14, 2014, p. 2B
McDonald’s laying off 63 people at headquarters in Oak Brook by the Chicago Tribune in the Telegraph Herald, January 11, 2015, p. 2B

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