Why You Need to Be More Like McDonald’s

Why You Need to Be More Like McDonald’s

In his book, E-Myth Revisited, renowned business coach Michael E. Gerber sheds light on a staggering statistic: 80% of all new businesses fail in the first 5 years.

What’s interesting is that franchises are not included in that statistic—their numbers are much better. Only 25% of franchises fail in the first 5 years.

So how are franchises so different from other businesses and why are they far more likely to succeed?

In a nutshell, it all goes down to systems—franchises utilize well-designed systems while most other businesses don’t.

A system is a workflow made up of best practices. Motion design, like any other industry, can greatly benefit from good systems—more on that later. First, let’s look at how franchises leverage systems to achieve success.

The Secret Sauce of McDonald’s Success

One of the most famous franchises of all time, McDonald’s is a perfect case-study. You can order a Big Mac from a New York City McDonald’s one day, order the same thing at a Los Angeles McDonald’s the next day and you would get a virtually identical sandwich—each under 5 minutes of waiting time. You may not be a fan of their food, but you have to be impressed with McDonald’s efficiency and consistency of quality.

In their 14,000+ restaurants across the United State and thousands more around the world, McDonald’s doesn’t rely on star employees for their success—star employees are hard to find and even the best of them still have off days. The system is McDonald’s star employee.

There is a system for grilling the burgers—employees know exactly how long to grill a patty before flipping it over to the other side. There is also a system for preparing french fries—how long to cook them in the oil and how much salt to sprinkle afterwards. Taking away all the guesswork and simply working the system ensures no burger is over or under-cooked and no fries are too salty or not salty enough.

But McDonald’s systems go beyond cooking. There are systems for drive-through orders, inventory, staffing and so on. This is why you can count on getting identical sandwiches every single time, regardless of which McDonald’s you visit. Now if only you could also count on their ice-cream machine to not be broken—a topic for another time.

So that was an example of a franchise using systems to succeed. Now let’s look at a single location restaurant that doesn’t use systems.

Why 80% of Businesses Fail

Imagine a brand new fast-food joint opened up in your city, Joe’s Burger. The restaurant is run by Joe and his son Billy. Joe is the best grill-master in town—a cook-out legend! So when Joe’s Burger finally opened its doors, it was packed out right away! At first, Joe was thrilled, but a few hours into the restaurant’s first day in business, Joe and Billy started to encounter issues.

The first issue arose at the cash register. Billy was messing up the orders. Joe spent a week learning the software but didn’t have time to train Billy until the morning of the restaurant’s opening. As a result, Joe had to step away from the grill several minutes at a time throughout the day to fix Billy’s mistakes—leading to a few burned burgers here and there.

The next issue had to do with inventory. Not expecting a very big turn out on the first day, Joe drastically underestimated the amount of cheese he would need. So, taking over both the grill and the register, Joe sent Billy to the local market for his go-to cheese that pairs so perfectly with his signature beef patties. There’s just one problem, it’s 6:30 PM and the market has been closed for an hour. So, Billy has to run to the nearest grocery store and buy whatever cheese he can find while his dad is doing a terrible job juggling the grill and the register during the dinner rush—under-cooking some burgers and over-cooking others.

Even when Billy returns to help Joe, there’s now a brand new issue of cheeseburgers being served with sub-par cheese—introducing additional inconsistency to customers’ experience.

Do you see how Joe’s Burger is a sinking ship? Even if Joe hires an additional employee to help him and Billy, his restaurant would still sink—albeit a little slower but sink nonetheless.

Despite Joe’s legendary grill-master skills and Billy’s best efforts at the register, Joe’s Burger will unfortunately be among the 80% of businesses that fail in the first 5 years.

Bringing It Closer to Home

We all know a drowning business owner or even an employee who works less like McDonald’s and more like Joe’s Burger. Not only do I know several Joes, I myself spent years managing my motion design work much like Joe managed his restaurant—no system, just shooting from the hip and constantly putting out preventable fires.

After much stress, many late nights at the office and canceled dinner plans with friends and family, I decided to look for a better way.

I looked back at all the projects I’ve completed over the years to see what worked and what didn’t. To my surprise, it didn’t take long to notice what caused some projects to go smoothly and what caused others to go completely off the rails.

Taking a note from McDonald’s, I assembled the elements that helped me succeed in the past into a workflow I could easily use on all my future projects.

Where to Go From Here?

Do you know what tools and practices cause you to succeed? If so, I encourage you to take a few minutes and sketch out a personal workflow that’s made up of only those elements.

Just remember, a good workflow must do two things: improve efficiency and ensure consistency of quality.

If you would like to learn more about setting up a motion design workflow that accomplishes those two goals, check out my Learn Motion Design Workflow course on Ukramedia.com.


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