In the 1990s, it epitomized Western capitalism, a fast but “calorie-rich” meal. The latter is no longer valid. On today’s menu, you’ll find 100 per cent Czech beef, soy milk and gluten-free buns. You can also order a burger served with salad only, and it will be brought to your table.
Like all restaurants, McDonald’s had to shut its doors in March because of the coronavirus. Then it had to address how to satisfy customers and keep approximately 6,500 employees in work. The result was McWalk: meals served through specially adapted windows, for customers arriving on foot. “We decided minute by minute. We didn’t adopt a systematic approach until later,” recalls Martin Troup, Marketing Director at McDonald’s. “Our franchise partners came up with the idea. People started walking to McDrive windows, and we were looking for ways to serve them while keeping them safe,” adds Jaroslav Sedláček, Operations Director.
„We’re fast, and our menu has healthier options, too. We’re here for everyone.“Martin Troup, CMO McDonald’s
The coronavirus situation merely highlights that McDrive is an essential sales channel that McDonald’s wishes to focus on in the future. Even after the government restrictions ended and restaurants re-opened, interest in McDrive was twice as high as before. Similarly, the McDelivery service, which the firm launched in autumn 2019, recorded twice as many orders. McDonald’s uses all the major market players for home deliveries but does not deliver meals itself.
During the coronavirus crisis, the organization also won plaudits by offering all drinks free for emergency services personnel. “McDonald’s mission is to be a good neighbour. To be there for those who need it right now. And what better way to do so than with our services,” explains Sedláček, describing the company’s approach. In the Czech Republic, it is a local business under a global brand – 103 restaurants run by 22 franchisees, just under half of whom are women. “The advantage is that we can respond to local needs. Compared with their counterparts in other countries, Czech customers really love McCafé, and our breakfast does well,” points out Troup. Similarly, Pilsner beer and raspberry and grape flavoured soft drinks cannot be found anywhere other than at the Czech McDonalds. In addition, franchisees back local cultural and sporting events.
In recent years, McDonald’s has invested heavily in technological innovation both in the kitchen and in service. Pre-prepared burgers waiting for their customers are a thing of the past. “Today, everyone can be assured that the sandwich they ordered is prepared directly for them,” says Sedláček. If you don’t feel like ordering at the counter, you can use one of the touch screens now installed in almost all of the company’s restaurants. McDonald’s has also introduced table service everywhere, with the exception of food courts in shopping malls, where it is not possible. Customers place their orders, and before the food is brought to them they can, for instance, go and wash their hands and attend to their family in peace. “Three years ago, I wouldn’t have believed that we could cater to such a big number of people with table service. We’re also striving for a more empathetic, personal approach,” he adds, listing other possible reasons for this year’s record shift in the rankings.
By 2025, McDonald’s wants all packaging to be from sustainable, recycled or certified sources; by 2030 it plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its restaurants, offices and supply chain activities by 36 per cent (compared to 2015 levels). McDonald’s is built on transparency: on its website and as part of the Na rovinu tour project, the restaurant chain gives details of all its suppliers and individual ingredient sourcing.
The Czech headquarters of McDonald’s is tasked with supervising the brand. The customer must be completely unaware that different people manage different branches. Becoming a McDonald’s franchisee is no mean feat. To win a 20-year contract, an applicant must hand over 10 million crowns but most of all go through several rounds of the selection procedure, and gradually try out all the roles at a branch first-hand during the first year. “We’re not looking for investors but operators. We work based on a long-term partnership. Often, franchisees hand over their branches to someone in the family, but even there our permission is required,” states Jaroslav Sedláček. He himself embodies this long-term relationship: he worked at McDonald’s as a summer job after high school, together with a friend. He mostly wanted to earn some extra money and then see what would happen next. He has been faithful to the company symbolized by the famous Golden Arches for 22 years.