20 September 2018
The infamous McDonald’s man Ray Kroc is a bully to some, a business legend to others. So, reading his 1977 book, Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’s, I was interested to read more about his character.
I’ve read this book many times over the years. It’s a fascinating story to say the least. Whatever your personal opinions about Kroc’s approach – I’ll let you come to your own conclusions here – there is no denying there are some incredibly valuable lessons to be learned.
He is an extraordinary people-watcher, who is perceptive to say the least. This is clear in the processes and approach throughout the McDonald’s empire.
From a salesman who sold a few milkshake machines to the original McDonald brothers, Kroc transformed the business from a small family firm to a globally recognisable brand. So how did he do it?
For me, one of the most interesting parts of the Kroc story comes in the description of McDonald’s not as a hamburger chain but as a property business. This is still true as of today. McDonald’s, as of last year, was reported to have more than $30bn (£22.7bn) in real estate assets. Kroc masterminded the franchise concept that enabled this growth.
Kroc understood importance of empowering people. He writes that if you hire someone to do a job, you should get out of their way and let them do it. I’ve seen this in practice time and again. People don’t grow when they’re spoon-fed or micro-managed. When you step back and empower others with ownership of their own area of the business, they quickly thrive and become leaders in their own right. It’s something we put into practice every day at UKFast.
Reputation is everything
Alongside this Kroc knew the importance of repeat business based on the entire system rather than a single restaurant experience. There should be best practice across the board, the brand needs a reputation for great service and meeting a need. This is just as relevant today as it was in the 1970s and earlier.
A reputation can make or break a business, it’s that simple. Is everyone aligned with your values and approach? Does everyone believe in your goal as a business? Are you all meeting the same standards?
Alongside Kroc’s incredibly successful approach, it’s important to note the unique approach by the original McDonald brothers. To establish the perfect working kitchen, the brothers measured everything out to the millimetre, chalking the plans for the kitchen in a car park. What an ingenious idea! Of course, it rained shortly afterwards washing away all of their hard work!
Despite being on the receiving end of some bad PR as the public become more health-conscious (think of the documentary Supersize Me), there’s no denying that McDonald’s is one of the biggest, most recognisable brands on the planet.
This is a truly interesting, yet heavy read. Certainly a book for entrepreneurs who want to take their business to the next level.