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The Women Behind McDonald's Success

McDonald’s standing as the biggest name in franchising is so cemented that we often forget what their success is built upon.


Franchise Times has done a brilliant job profiling exactly what makes McDonald’s function so strongly. McDonald’s certainly don’t need any more publicity, but I thought it was worth discussing because it provides a sort of blueprint for franchisors aspiring to bigger things. In the same way that young basketball stars study films of Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, this profile of McDonald’s should be printed off and regularly read.


The story outlines the three prongs of McDonald’s success: corporate, franchisees and suppliers. Interestingly, the piece profiles three women who are all hugely active in the management of each level, president Jan Fields, franchisee Rita Mack and VP of marketing Leonor Gaviña-Valls. Many people may think of McDonald’s are a hugely homogenous organization, but the key to its success is its diversity.

"Although the cornerstone of franchising is sameness, McDonald’s has made a concerted effort to include and accommodate women, minorities, cultures and various religious backgrounds at the workplace and on the menu.

Their inclusiveness is not just for people on the payroll. The franchise looks for minority suppliers when possible, and ensures the various vendors also believe in its values and participate in its training programs and charitable activities."


For some explanation of the future direction of the Golden Arches, McDonald’s COO Don Thompson did an exclusive interview with the Chicago Tribune recently. Among the interesting discusssion points, Thompson discussed the company's European strategy in light of the recent euro crisis.

"With the market so uncertain, especially in Europe, how difficult is it to know how much to emphasize value pricing versus a more profitable mix of products?

Thompson: We have teams, very talented teams, in each one of the major countries throughout Europe. We've got some countries that are performing at the absolutely highest levels of the overall corporation — I mean markets like the U.K. are just phenomenal performers. At the same time I've got markets like Germany that have fought through a very intense recessionary environment. So Europe is not this monochromatic scene, so to speak, just like the U.S. isn't. Cross the U.S. from one end to the other and there are some very different economic circumstances. So we have different programs for different focal points across the country. I think that the way we've introduced coffee in the U.S. and we're introducing McCafes all over Europe, the way we have continued to gain market share and reinvest at the same time — that's what's making McDonald's a really special place for customers."

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