McD’s Wants Sit Down Business

Sep 07, 2004

By George Anderson

There’s a reason those plastic chairs are so uncomfortable. Fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s are looking to get people in, serve them, and move them right back out the
door to take care of the next group of customers.

There’s no doubt the chairs have done their part in helping make McDonald’s successful, but the chain and its franchisees are testing comfy chairs and other approaches to see
if keeping customers around longer may achieve the same or better results than the in-and-out philosophy the chain was built on.

Errol Service, a McDonald’s franchisee in the Detroit suburb of Harper Woods, is one of those with a different vision for his restaurant. “We want people to spend more time sitting
down with their families, having dinner. We want them to feel like they’re at home,” he told the Associated Press. “We want them to sit back, relax, read the newspaper.”

Mr. Service’s McDonald’s has café tables with outlets for laptop connections, private booths and a black leather sofa in the center of the restaurant.

Pick the right day and customers may find a reggae band playing and even win a trip to Mr. Service’s native home of Jamaica or other Caribbean destination.

Mr. Service’s restaurant is one among many in a nationwide campaign started several years ago by McDonald’s to give franchisees the ability to tailor their businesses to local

“What we’re trying to give the customers is more privacy, more space, more comfort, more warmth and more convenience,” said Mike Perry, McDonald’s director of operations in Michigan.
“We want to get people to linger, to enjoy us. We want a little less fiberglass, a little less of the fast-food feeling.”

McDonald’s spokesperson Bill Whitman, said the company is looking to remodel about 1,300 restaurants this year to help achieve the goal of making individual locations “more relevant
to customers.”

Moderator’s Comment: Is McDonald’s re-imaging campaign on the right track? How does it balance its company-wide branding with the visual merchandising
and marketing needs of local operators?

Gregory Thomas, a restaurant industry analyst told the Associated Press, “Most of the good ideas for renovations come from franchisees, but it’s
a touchy subject because it’s a lot of money to ask them to put down.”

Mike Perry said the company offers to match costs up to $100,000 for franchisees looking to update and remodel locations as part of McDonald’s re-imaging

George Anderson – Moderator

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