McDonald’s (Ticker MCD) announced abysmal earnings with quarterly profit dropping a head-spinning 30%. System-wide sales were down 5%, with every geographic region suffering a decline. It was McDonald’s worst quarterly decline since 2002. Analysts pointed to a variety of factors including a scandal at a meat supplier in China, consumer sticker shock from an erstwhile dollar-menu that now looks like a ten-dollar menu, increased competition, and frankly, lousy food that almost everyone now knows causes disease with every bite.
But CEO Don Thompson, an optimist at heart, didn’t have much to say about any of that. Evidently thinking he can’t do much about the Pablum on the menu, Thompson said he was going to revamp the firm’s use of technology to make it easier to buy a burger. From the Wall Street Journal:
“Mr. Thompson, in a statement, outlined several initiatives the company is undertaking to improve its operations, including investments in service and technology enhancements to improve customers’ experience and a global push to make it easier for customers to order and pay for McDonald’s food digitally.”
Seriously? If he thinks the ship is sinking due to a longer average transaction time, he may be a step behind.
Bud Fox News, speaking with senior executive Inigo Montoya of McDonald’s largest franchisee, Arcos Dorados (that’s Golden Arches for you gringo’s) learned what Thompson’s plan is. Said Montoya:
“Don thinks we need to roll out dozens of iPads in each restaurant and turn the ordering process into a kind of video game. Customers will be handed an iPad upon entering a restaurant. They will then choose menu item icons, like a burger, fries, chicken nuggets- whatever. They then have to put the items they picked into a sling and flip it across the screen into Ronald McDonald’s mouth- a lot like Angry Birds. When an item lands in the clown’s mouth, it shows up on a screen in the kitchen. Then you pay with Pay-Pal and you’re done. He thinks if you eliminate the need to talk to customers and exchange physical payment, things will move a lot quicker and the customers will really like using a digital device to order food because it’s so novel. We don’t really think any of this is a good idea.”
Other ideas Mr. Montoya mentioned as being kicked around at headquarters were free food delivery, ordering by text message, and offering a catering service. Montoya concluded, “If this keeps up we may convert all our sites to Burger Kings. It’d be easy since the two companies share all the same suppliers.”