How McDonald’s Breakfast Just Saved Your Business Money

In a former post, using Zulily and Chipotle, we demonstrated the importance of humanizing your brand. Just as important is listening to the customer.

On January 25, McDonald’s reported that the decision to start serving all-day breakfast may have saved the franchise. It certainly revived it.

Why didn’t they do it sooner? The Washington Post reported:

For years, adoring fans pleaded with McDonald’s to extend its breakfast menu beyond the current 10:30 a.m. cutoff. For nearly as long, the fast-food behemoth shrugged off the ask, saying it doesn’t have the capacity to make breakfast and everything else at the same time. But this October, McDonald’s finally gave in.

It’s hardly uncommon for a corporation to ignore customers’ voices, but small businesses do it as well—perhaps at their own peril.

Sure, it might mean that you’ll have to swallow your pride and admit—to customers and competitors—that you aren’t doing as well from a business standpoint, but reconnecting with your customers on a human level is well worth it.

Each time McDonald’s has announced how much money it’s making, the company has been forced to share an embarrassing truth: Americans are eating less and less of its hamburgers, chicken nuggets and French fries. The routine became so consistently depressing that McDonald’s decided to quit sharing monthly performance data altogether in March.

Customers appreciate transparency. And when a company this large visibly struggles, they watch closely. And many vocalize their opinions.

Your customers’ opinions may help the business OUT of its slump. Plus, you’ll likely save a boatload in development costs and business coaching / consulting fees—just by asking your customers what you could be doing better or what they truly want.

The common path is to seek out guidance from coaches and business gurus. And what will most experts study in addition to market trends and other factors? Feedback from your customers—survey data, online reviews, social media interaction…

The current CEO of McDonald’s, Steve Easterbrook, has made responsiveness to customers and more sustainable food choices part of his mission.

The corporation was hit over the proverbial head with trends toward an active fanbase, a vocal market (sometimes “vocal” means diminishing sales and less interaction with the brand, don’t forget), and rising global consciousness:

[Easterbrook] has shown that he’s willing to not only listen to but also heed requests from the fast-food chain’s customers. The introduction of all-day breakfast is perhaps the best example, but during his short stint, he has already also shortened the McDonald’s menu and announced plans to switch to cage-free eggs and antibiotic-free chicken in the United States, among other things…. Despite the company’s recent struggles, its stock is at a near all-time high.

[Note that they never miss an opportunity—positive or negative—to publicize their journey. Clever, clever.]

Business Insider reported on January 21 that the CEO of Target, Brian Cornell, and other top executives have been visiting customers’ homes to find out how they “shop, live, and consume.”

This comes in the wake of hundreds of Walmart Express (mini Walmarts, essentially) stores closing across the country. The top brass at Target wanted to learn from the retailer’s mistakes. By zeroing in on the same demographic—young single women and Hispanic moms—Target hopes to capture more urban customers.

Do we love mega-corporations in general? No.

But we can learn a lot from their examples—and costly mistakes—about the importance of asking your customers for feedback and listening to their opinions.

It seems like a no-brainer, right? And yet so rare.

As a business grows, the leadership often falls out of touch with the consumer / client. But for small businesses, many of whose top-level executives do have relationships with their clients, this disconnect exists just as prevalently.

When revenue flatlines or plummets, a significant opportunity is missed by business owners whose wish to avoid a damaged ego overpowers the opportunity to learn and grow.

Without market research, you’re operating in the dark. And, what’s worse, probably wasting thousands of dollars.

In the age of Facebook, Yelp, and, hell, email, most market research can be conducted for FREE. So what are you waiting for?

Management consultant and brand strategist for small teams. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

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7 years ago

Great article! Points well taken – thanks for sharing.