McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast: A Glimmer of Hope in Uphill Battle

By Brian Harris


In October, McDonald’s introduced its All-Day Breakfast menu. It was a bold comeback move for one of America’s iconic fast-food chains. It was a way for McDonald’s, the QSR breakfast leader, to differentiate themselves from competitors at a time when sales were slipping and more stores were closing than opening.

While it’s still too early for McDonald’s to officially tell us (Q4 2015 results have not been released) a recent consumer study has shown promising results. Conducted by market research firm NPD Group Inc., the survey revealed that one-third of customers who bought McDonald’s breakfast beyond regular hours had not visited the restaurant in the month before the launch of this initiative. In addition, 61% of customers who purchased breakfast items during lunch hours also purchased non-breakfast items.

So there you have it: There’s evidence that McDonald’s strategy of offering breakfast all day is attracting absent customers and driving sales of non-breakfast items. For now, the strategy appears to be working.

Better Customer Service Still Needed

If you’re like me, you occasionally stop in McDonald’s, and when you have, you’ve experienced a poor customer service experience. This has been a problem plaguing the chain. I’m more of a “foot traffic” shopper—whether it’s the bank or a drive-thru food establishment, I prefer to park my car and walk into the store. Apparently, I’m in the minority with stepping foot inside a McDonald’s. About 70% of sales are from the drive-thru.

But my perspective as a customer inside the store has been revealing. I can sum it up in one word: confusion. There’s just poor communication between staff members on who is doing what. And while it’s great to see managers actively helping their employees, they also look stressed out and pulled in too many directions. Most recently, a frazzled manager—not a regular employee—filled my order and it was incorrect. That was after someone who placed an order after me received hers first.

Wait time and order accuracy continue to be sticking points for McDonald’s customer service. It’s been a cumulative problem that the chain is finally now addressing it at a store level. There’s a new policy called “ask, ask, tell” which provides three opportunities for employees to check the customer’s order. It’s a step in the right direction, but now it needs to be implemented.

Supporting Employees is Key

How did McDonald’s know that all-day breakfast was a good bet? It looked at the number of people tweeting about it. It was a problem that was measured.

Imagine if you measured the feedback of the people who know your business the best—your employees. The frazzled manager could report in real-time what is happening in her store and where she needs help. With measurable results, you could start to see patterns across your stores. You could even observe and document whether or not a new policy like “ask, ask, tell” is being implemented. You could begin to address employee training and understaffing problems.

When you operate a network of stores, whether it’s 10 or 10,000+ like McDonald’s, you can only attempt to fix what you understand. You can only understand what has been measured and communicated. It’s time to open the door to better communication between store-level operations and senior management.

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