thats so cool to read about the innovations of their machine. text message alerts, ingredient monitoring in the hopper -- there is so much meat on the bone in so many markets.
i sometimes think of what a better mcdonalds would look like. i imagine it would have equipment like this ice-cream machine that is highly automated and designed for very low maintenance. so one area of arbitrage is reducing staff count and burden with the machinery. then another aspect is getting rid of indoor seating. even before the pandemic i always noticed that the drive-through always seemed to get more traffic than the inside. i think you could just get rid of the inside and do a scaled-up version of the parking-lot delivery that mcdonalds has started doing recently. a medium sized parking lot with a large amount of numbered spaces, and some of the area could be used as a buffer for people to wait for open spaces. and a walk-up window for people who dont have a smart phone or are on foot. and this plays into the largest source of employee friction in my opinion. imagine you work at mcdonalds, you are face to face with random strangers all day. not only is it embarrassing to show your face and be recognized as a person who works at mcdonalds, its stressful dealing with people who are rude and sometimes crazy. i think if you could cut out this aspect of working at mcdonalds that it would be a much more attractive job and you would have much higher employee quality and retention which matter a lot. and one way you might do this is to have a very simple robot deliver the food. the active parking spots could all be on the outer edge of the parking lot and wrapping around the edge could be a track with protrusions between each parking space. it would be covered for rain and snow and surrounded by standard railings so that nobody would wander into the track, no cars could intrude into the track and nobody could interfere with the robot easily since it would be quite heavy. the robot would be a large box about the height of a car door window with a large battery and four large wheels and a camera and a radio. the robot would travel between the building and cars, having multiple food orders put on top of its head and then positioned directly in front of the driver window. it would be simple to drive, impossible to drive into a place it wasnt supposed to be, and driven on shifts, perhaps as a break from the more laborious jobs or by other people remotely. and the nice thing is that if the backup robots all failed or there is some problem, the workers could just use the track to deliver orders by hand like dairy queen. a high tech fast food company with delicious food, an app that works, fast and efficient user experience and a massive improvement in employee satisfaction.
I think a better McDonalds looks a lot like In and Out. If the Founder is accurate, McDonalds was a lot like In and Out at one time and operated like it. Chick-fil-a operates similarly.
One thing that is always fascinating to me when I go to either of those two fast food restaurants is the army of workers they have on staff at any time. Usually each doing one very specific job and doing it well. They seem to make up for the extra labor cost by having higher sales per store.
Otherwise, better quality, prices, and service (and staff pay and treatment).
But it's taste, I suppose.
Nobody is forcing you to go to McDonald's, stick with INO if it makes you feel good. I love it too (CFA, not so much) but each restaurant has its own niche and each chain has found the style that works for them.
And this is exactly the source of the problem: the idea that the purpose of McDonald's (or any other company) is to provide Number Go Up thrills to its stockholders, rather than to produce a good product, with the profit being the reward for doing so well.
McDonald's goal isn't to produce the greatest burger in the world. It succeeds at the best combination of pretty tasty food, high menu variety, very convenient, generally quick, and low price. It is not #1 at any single attribute (maybe convenience) but the best overall combination.
Interestingly, Chick-fil-a has learned to scale and maintain quality.
Every INO is company-owned, overall I think it manages to keep quality pretty high at all it's stores. Of course part of that is due to the extremely limited menu, and also that INO has never been known for fast service. INO basically tells customers up front, we aren't convenient and we aren't fast and we don't sell anything except burgers... that's 3 areas of potential customer dissatisfaction that they take off the table. All that is left is price, which is good not great, and taste/quality, which, to its credit, INO is pretty fanatical about. Edit: and cleanliness/service, also strong points for INO
Check out that "Bad Boy Hot Dog".