McDonald's franchisees want a better chicken sandwich

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Brian Lutz
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McDonald's franchisees want a better chicken sandwich

Post by Brian Lutz » July 11th, 2019, 7:44 am

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/10/mcdonal ... fil-a.html

The National Owners Association, a group of McDonald's franchise owners, is asking McDonald's to add a Southern-style chicken sandwich to the menu to compete with Chick-Fil-A. They previously had one on the menu but pulled it several years ago, and the current chicken sandwich offerings don't seem to be competitive with Chick-Fil-A's sandwiches, and Chick-Fil-A is really starting to cut into their business, especially in the Southern US. The letter (included in the article) also talks of challenges with lower customer counts, national promotions and seems to suggest that the current "Worldwide Favorites" promotion is generating poor sales.

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Re: McDonald's franchisees want a better chicken sandwich

Post by SamSpade » July 11th, 2019, 9:09 am

I'm confused. In the northwest (anyway) they have a tasty "premium" chicken filet sandwich. It's different from Chick fil A but still quite delicious. It does cost about the same.

The grilled version is nice and paired with the recent "Canadian" influence, especially tasty.

The fried version is OK, I just wish McDonalds would be a little less "sweet." I appreciate that at Carls Jr (for example) I can order a lettuce wrapped product instead. Here, the artisan bun that McDonalds is using tastes heavily of sugar.

I personally feel that the McCafe product has improved over the last 5 years or so and enjoy the $2 small latte. Then again, their other larger sizes are priced more in line with Starbucks and other coffee operators. I don't care much for soda so a giant $1 soda doesn't do anything for me. It was kind of nice to go to a larger city like Chicago and find these same prices available though.

Edit: Added thoughts on value soda/coffee

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Re: McDonald's franchisees want a better chicken sandwich

Post by Brian Lutz » July 11th, 2019, 9:31 am

Apparently the Premium Chicken Sandwiches are still a test market item running in Washington only.

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Re: McDonald's franchisees want a better chicken sandwich

Post by pseudo3d » July 11th, 2019, 6:59 pm

Brian Lutz wrote:
July 11th, 2019, 7:44 am
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/10/mcdonal ... fil-a.html

The National Owners Association, a group of McDonald's franchise owners, is asking McDonald's to add a Southern-style chicken sandwich to the menu to compete with Chick-Fil-A. They previously had one on the menu but pulled it several years ago, and the current chicken sandwich offerings don't seem to be competitive with Chick-Fil-A's sandwiches, and Chick-Fil-A is really starting to cut into their business, especially in the Southern US. The letter (included in the article) also talks of challenges with lower customer counts, national promotions and seems to suggest that the current "Worldwide Favorites" promotion is generating poor sales.
The "Worldwide Favorites" has a few good items. However, they don't really capitalize on the novelty of McDonald's food around the world. Probably part of the reason I suppose would making do with what they have, being able to just be able to ship certain types of frozen sauces and other goods rather than try to reinvent the wheel (new buns, new ingredients, etc.) or to do something that U.S. stores couldn't handle kitchen-wise or even with the government (serving beer like German stores wouldn't be possible unless they wanted all the U.S. stores to get liquor licenses). But then again, a chicken-based Big Mac would probably be fairly easy to fit into the schedule, right?

The major problem I see is that McDonald's has nationalized too much--in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, regional items flourished and many of the restaurants had theming. After all, most of McDonald's most famous items were created by franchisees (Big Mac, Egg McMuffin), and now they're asking McDonald's to make a menu item for them? :?

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Re: McDonald's franchisees want a better chicken sandwich

Post by storewanderer » July 12th, 2019, 11:04 pm

McDonalds needs to improve the operations of its locations. They are losing customers because their execution is not consistent. Lukewarm food and undercooked fries are common. Very inconsistent execution. They are also losing customers because their prices are too high (some franchisees are much more guilty of this than others). Frankly, there are just too many better options. Their food is not worth $7-$8 for a combo meal. A Wendy's "4 for 4" meal is about as much calories/fat/protein and seems to taste better.

They already had a Chickfila knockoff sandwich a couple years ago, the Southern Chicken, and it was a $3 Value Menu item (that same menu the franchisees seem so proud to have killed nationally short of the $1 drinks). I don't know why it was discontinued but I assume it was slow sales or these franchisees who didn't want to sell it for $3.

Also they already have some premium chicken sandwiches and have for years; there is a Grilled and a Crispy version and these retail around $5. Late last summer the McDonalds app was running a lot of "$1 any sandwich" promotions and I was redeeming it on these chicken sandwiches. The grilled one isn't bad, I think so few are sold that you get a fresh product. I ordered those across quite a few locations in a few different states and actually every time it was edible; some seemed to have more flavor than others. I tried the crispy one twice; once at lunch it was okay; the next time at dinner it was an inedible hockey puck and I never ordered it again.

I have never received inedible food at Chickfila. I have never seen a dirty Chickfila. I have never received poor service at a Chickfila. I have never walked out of a Chickfila without ordering anything due to observing unsanitary conditions or due to standing at the counter for 5 minutes and not getting my order taken. I have never seen employees at Chickfila with sloppy appearances. I have seen all of these things numerous times at McDonalds in numerous states. McDonalds needs to seriously assess its operations because food is only one part of the equation regarding why Chickfila is so successful. Some McDonalds franchisees are trying hard and execute just fine but other operators are not executing well and it is really causing the brand's image problems.

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Re: McDonald's franchisees want a better chicken sandwich

Post by pseudo3d » July 13th, 2019, 4:29 pm

storewanderer wrote:
July 12th, 2019, 11:04 pm
McDonalds needs to improve the operations of its locations. They are losing customers because their execution is not consistent. Lukewarm food and undercooked fries are common. Very inconsistent execution. They are also losing customers because their prices are too high (some franchisees are much more guilty of this than others). Frankly, there are just too many better options. Their food is not worth $7-$8 for a combo meal. A Wendy's "4 for 4" meal is about as much calories/fat/protein and seems to taste better.

They already had a Chickfila knockoff sandwich a couple years ago, the Southern Chicken, and it was a $3 Value Menu item (that same menu the franchisees seem so proud to have killed nationally short of the $1 drinks). I don't know why it was discontinued but I assume it was slow sales or these franchisees who didn't want to sell it for $3.

Also they already have some premium chicken sandwiches and have for years; there is a Grilled and a Crispy version and these retail around $5. Late last summer the McDonalds app was running a lot of "$1 any sandwich" promotions and I was redeeming it on these chicken sandwiches. The grilled one isn't bad, I think so few are sold that you get a fresh product. I ordered those across quite a few locations in a few different states and actually every time it was edible; some seemed to have more flavor than others. I tried the crispy one twice; once at lunch it was okay; the next time at dinner it was an inedible hockey puck and I never ordered it again.

I have never received inedible food at Chickfila. I have never seen a dirty Chickfila. I have never received poor service at a Chickfila. I have never walked out of a Chickfila without ordering anything due to observing unsanitary conditions or due to standing at the counter for 5 minutes and not getting my order taken. I have never seen employees at Chickfila with sloppy appearances. I have seen all of these things numerous times at McDonalds in numerous states. McDonalds needs to seriously assess its operations because food is only one part of the equation regarding why Chickfila is so successful. Some McDonalds franchisees are trying hard and execute just fine but other operators are not executing well and it is really causing the brand's image problems.
Chick-fil-A is a tightly-run ship that has expanded slowly to the point where each restaurant opening is cause for a grand opening celebration, and has never expanded beyond their reach. With almost every other fast food chain, the corpses of former restaurants cover cities, and they can even appear and disappear from markets for a time (especially smaller ones). Chick-fil-A also, despite its decidedly red-state feel, prefers medium to large urban markets, whereas McDonald's is just about everywhere.

McDonald's is really barking up the wrong tree here, customers don't really care if every restaurant is identical (as McDonald's has been updating them with a very rapid pace in the last decade), they want restaurants with competent execution. If McDonald's could institute a program that ensures restaurants can execute the "Quality, Service, Cleanliness, & Value" as they once famously did while allowing leeway on how restaurants look and what other food items they offer can work wonders on the company.

I suspect that there are certain menu items that are not doing too well across the chain as a whole (I have a feeling that McCafé is such a thing) that they need to drop. The recent changes to allow restaurants to offer what foods at certain times (only popular breakfast items after 2 pm) is a good one, but they need to go further in culling the menu and allowing franchisees to fill in the blanks.

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Re: McDonald's franchisees want a better chicken sandwich

Post by klkla » July 13th, 2019, 8:05 pm

pseudo3d wrote:
July 13th, 2019, 4:29 pm
McDonald's is really barking up the wrong tree here, customers don't really care if every restaurant is identical (as McDonald's has been updating them with a very rapid pace in the last decade), they want restaurants with competent execution. If McDonald's could institute a program that ensures restaurants can execute the "Quality, Service, Cleanliness, & Value" as they once famously did while allowing leeway on how restaurants look and what other food items they offer can work wonders on the company.
Under certain circumstances I think customers do want every restaurant to be very similar if not identical. Especially when they're traveling and not familiar with the local restaurants or regional cuisine. McDonald's may not be good, but you at least know what to expect and it's pretty consistent around the world.

Strangely, international McDonald's do have some leeway and often include regional items along with the regular items.

Examples I have seen:

Buenos Aires, Argentina - The McCafe section is separate & prominent. It's usually located in the front and includes outdoor sidewalk seating. It includes a much broader selection of desserts and coffees. The regular McDonald's is at the back of the store.

Medellin, Colombia - The menu includes a local plate that has beans, rice & green salad that is topped with either beef or chicken. FWIW when I was there about half the customers were eating that.

Sao Paulo & Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Nothing particularly local but they do have some different items such as the McCheddar that I haven't seen anywhere else.

Barcelona, Spain - They had bocadillos which are basically ham sandwiches on crusty bread with crushed tomatoes.

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Re: McDonald's franchisees want a better chicken sandwich

Post by pseudo3d » July 13th, 2019, 9:39 pm

klkla wrote:
July 13th, 2019, 8:05 pm
pseudo3d wrote:
July 13th, 2019, 4:29 pm
McDonald's is really barking up the wrong tree here, customers don't really care if every restaurant is identical (as McDonald's has been updating them with a very rapid pace in the last decade), they want restaurants with competent execution. If McDonald's could institute a program that ensures restaurants can execute the "Quality, Service, Cleanliness, & Value" as they once famously did while allowing leeway on how restaurants look and what other food items they offer can work wonders on the company.
Under certain circumstances I think customers do want every restaurant to be very similar if not identical. Especially when they're traveling and not familiar with the local restaurants or regional cuisine. McDonald's may not be good, but you at least know what to expect and it's pretty consistent around the world.
In what I would consider the "old" McDonald's restaurants, prior to the mid-2000s when "i'm lovin' it" came on board and all that, they had successfully created a balance (in the U.S.) where restaurants had a bit of uniqueness while conforming to a lot of what made the corporate model successful. The mansard roof was in almost every store (with very few exceptions), and was usually brown, red, or sometimes turquoise. The menu was by and large the same, even if they had a unique item or two, there was always the stand-bys, like the Chicken McNuggets, the Filet-O-Fish, the Big N' Tasty, and the Happy Meals often promoting the latest Disney movie in theaters. The layouts were standard prototypes with the restrooms arranged in the same way, and most of the "themed" restaurants were mostly limited to different things on the walls. Truly off-the-wall restaurants were still few and far between, and in those days, no one was talking about how McDonald's restaurants were "too different" between them. Like I said with the menu culling above, McDonald's needs to recognize they're not going to be Chick-fil-A, they're not going to be Starbucks, and they're not going to be anything else but themselves. A new menu item will never change that, and certainly not some focus group-tested menu item out of Chicago.

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Re: McDonald's franchisees want a better chicken sandwich

Post by Super S » July 14th, 2019, 7:51 am

pseudo3d wrote:
July 13th, 2019, 9:39 pm
klkla wrote:
July 13th, 2019, 8:05 pm
pseudo3d wrote:
July 13th, 2019, 4:29 pm
McDonald's is really barking up the wrong tree here, customers don't really care if every restaurant is identical (as McDonald's has been updating them with a very rapid pace in the last decade), they want restaurants with competent execution. If McDonald's could institute a program that ensures restaurants can execute the "Quality, Service, Cleanliness, & Value" as they once famously did while allowing leeway on how restaurants look and what other food items they offer can work wonders on the company.
Under certain circumstances I think customers do want every restaurant to be very similar if not identical. Especially when they're traveling and not familiar with the local restaurants or regional cuisine. McDonald's may not be good, but you at least know what to expect and it's pretty consistent around the world.
In what I would consider the "old" McDonald's restaurants, prior to the mid-2000s when "i'm lovin' it" came on board and all that, they had successfully created a balance (in the U.S.) where restaurants had a bit of uniqueness while conforming to a lot of what made the corporate model successful. The mansard roof was in almost every store (with very few exceptions), and was usually brown, red, or sometimes turquoise. The menu was by and large the same, even if they had a unique item or two, there was always the stand-bys, like the Chicken McNuggets, the Filet-O-Fish, the Big N' Tasty, and the Happy Meals often promoting the latest Disney movie in theaters. The layouts were standard prototypes with the restrooms arranged in the same way, and most of the "themed" restaurants were mostly limited to different things on the walls. Truly off-the-wall restaurants were still few and far between, and in those days, no one was talking about how McDonald's restaurants were "too different" between them. Like I said with the menu culling above, McDonald's needs to recognize they're not going to be Chick-fil-A, they're not going to be Starbucks, and they're not going to be anything else but themselves. A new menu item will never change that, and certainly not some focus group-tested menu item out of Chicago.
When it comes to large restaurant chains, McDonald's (at least in my experience) is one of the most consistent with their food and restaurants. With very few exceptions, I know what I am going to get when I visit a McDonald's when I travel. And although I have not traveled much in the last few years, my family moved around a lot while growing up, and we often would pick McDonald's. I have seen a lot of inconsistency in different areas of the country with chains such as Burger King, KFC, Denny's, Taco Bell, Sizzler, and one of the most inconsistent of them all, Subway. I have lived in some areas where locally owned restaurants tend to be poorly run and do not last longer than a few years, and in some cases would rather eat at national chains. Is McDonald's the best food? No. But when I go there I can usually expect fast service, a clean restaurant and bathrooms, and a consistent product. McDonald's also tends to not give me an attitude when they make a mistake and stands behind their product.

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Re: McDonald's franchisees want a better chicken sandwich

Post by storewanderer » July 14th, 2019, 9:47 am

Come out here to Reno and all your impressions of consistency at McDonalds will go out the window. Look at 5 locations in Reno on Yelp with 1.5/5 star reviews. There are some other locations I didn't post about that are solid 2 or 2.5 out of 5...

I think all but one of the locations I'm referencing below have gotten remodels too...

Contrast that to the two local Chickfila Locations with very high Yelp reviews 4/5 solid.

It isn't only the product. It is the operation. The operation is why Chickfila is winning.

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