A Food Menu Lesson For Our Industry At McDonald’s

Feb. 12, 2015

Perhaps you've noticed that McDonald's has been in the news a lot lately. They have a new CEO who must move quickly to drive sales and profit growth and turn-around decreases in same-store sales. In recent years our industry has faced similar challenges.

There was a very interesting article in The New York Times exploring ways McDonald’s might re-think their menu. The expert cited was Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. He is a star of the Food Network.

Zakarian said, “Of course, the food could be better. All fast food could be better. McDonald’s has been incredibly successful, and you have to respect that. It only has to be incrementally better.” In the article, he suggested leaner beef, a better bun and possibly a higher-priced option “since all these things come at a cost,” he said.  

Being “incrementally better” has significant meaning for us. We already serve good food (and snacks and beverages too). What are the specific steps we need to take to be “better” across our menu? Are there “higher-priced option” opportunities where we might add an upgraded menu item?

By the way, Zakarian liked the fries and coffee at McDonald’s. “I’d come back for the fries and coffee,” he said.

“McDonald’s should do what it does well. You get the feeling they’re throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. You can’t be all things to all people,” Zakarian said.

That point also resonated with me. Do you have a menu strategy for food (and snacks and beverages too)? If you don’t, you are missing the most important opportunities to increase sales. What is it on your menu that people would come back for?

At one point in my career I was Director of Food & Beverage at TGI Friday’s. We had seasonal menu changes which were announced and promoted aggressively. We would also focus on menu categories, appetizers and desserts for example, adding new menu items on a regular basis. Poor sellers were removed from the menu.   

If you don’t have a menu strategy, it’s time to establish a plan and create one.