When six cooks cook, no one eats … why I dumped McDonalds

The Polish have great phrases and idioms. They add a touch of humour to their sayings that make them richer than the English equivalent. The ‘six cooks’ saying is open to interpretation but I take it to mean that you can be so busy being busy that mistakes are inevitable.

That’s McDonalds, version 2015.

I eat on the run a lot. I drive between the Hunter and various parts of Sydney at least once a week, travel intrastate and interstate frequently and have four young, active kids who are always coming or going to an after school activity or social gathering.

Further, the Golden Arches has always been my preferred pit stop. Great promotions, an excellent range and even better real estate investments make them hard to go past. Literally.

So what flicked the post cognitive dissonance switch in my head just one too many times? It wasn’t the 16 minute wait on a chocolate Sundae I had with my eldest daughter late last year or the near farcical experience I had just a few weeks back getting my son a promotional mini Sherrin footy. Nor was it the frozen coke machines at three local restaurants that were out of order concurrently for over a week which took pester power to a whole new level in our family (specifically my car!) as I traversed the region looking for relief.

It’s the sweet & sour sauce.

Yes, although it’s at the very bottom of the food chain and is more closely related to dessert sauce than the savoury style it purports to represent – and I’m likely a bad parent for enabling such poor eating habits – two of my kids love to dip their French fries in sweet & sour sauce.  I order and pay for two ‘extra’ sachets on every visit for lunch or dinner.

God knows how many sachets McDonalds owe me over the past few years but, in fairness to them, I had no empirical evidence …until I started keeping count this year.

After 20 drive through orders since March (excluding breakfasts – I told you I eat too much fast food!), McDonalds restaurants from the NSW Southern Highlands to the mid North Coast and everywhere in between forgot to include the sweet and sour sauce on no less than 16 occasions.  My kids went sauceless 80% of the time!

The sauce handling process is flawed and people depart sauceless.

I had taken to getting my wife or one of the kids to check the contents of the bags before driving off and several times was able to prompt the staff to complete my order while still at the window. Several times I pulled up in the car park and went inside to collect the sauce, once I even re-entered drive through to complete my order. But sometimes it’s just not practical and the sauce remains behind.

When fast food stops being convenient and when you have to constantly review your order, it’s time to find a new place to spend your money. And when the Craig’s hunt as a pack we’re talking $70 a throw which, I’m sure, is well above the average basket size at Macca’s. In fact, on a recent trip to a friend’s farm on the Liverpool Plains we spent $70 on brekky on Saturday morning and $75 on dinner on the return trip the following evening. Again, sauce paid for but held captive in the PM transaction.

On a more serious note, there are probably a few reasons for this frustrating phenomenon. The first is likely linked to workflow. I’ve never asked, however I assume the staff that fulfil the beverage order – normally at the second window – are responsible for sourcing the sauce and not the front counter staff? Regardless of who is tasked with filling the ad-hoc sauce orders (ie. non nugget related), they clearly have no prompts or checks and balances in place.

The second reason is that there’s just too much to remember, even for keen youngsters who, in the main, are eager to please.

The McCafe menu is now available in drive through, many stores have a gluten free range, ever changing menu’s, multiple consumer promotions, all day breakfast, build your own burger, home delivery (yes, home delivery is being trialed in some metro restaurants) … so much going on.  So much that, regardless of the ‘crew’ numbers, extensive training or in-store leadership, things get missed. I wonder if it drives the franchisees a little mad as well?

We get it McDonalds. You innovate, you set trends, you keep it interesting. You’ve lead the way since Ray Kroc flipped his first burger in 1954. All good stuff. But when all this action and activity means my sauce is missed over and over and over again, the sizzle loses its sizzle. No business can be all things to all people.

When my clients are looking to diversify their offer, invest in new technologies or increase their footprint I always ask them is the customer at the core of every decision. Further, is your repeat customer at the heart of these decisions? I’d love to see Macca’s market research on a few of these recent initiatives to see if there really is a demand or if it’s more a case of six cooks cooking.

UPDATE: Macca’s noticed my blog, sent me an entire box of sauce (ie. 256 sachets) and asked me to speak to their ‘up and coming’ managers about my experience(s) as a customer. Read about it here:http://www.marketingsherpa.com.au/sweetening-a-sour-experience-maccas-responds-in-fine-fashion/

2018-03-20T06:33:30+00:00 September 15th, 2015|Categories: Customer Experience|0 Comments