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Don’t Be the Next McDonald’s Brothers

A cautionary tale from one of the world's most famous brands.
Mr. Conner has spent the last decade in the franchise industry working with several hundred different franchise systems in management, franchise sales and franchise development work. His experience ranges across all fields of franchise expertise with a focus in franchise marketing and franchise sales but includes work in franchise strategic planning, franchise research and franchise operations consulting. Christopher has worked with multiple International franchise and licensed organizations throughout the United States, Middle East, India and Europe. He has an MBA in Finance and Marketing from DePaul University in Chicago and a Bachelors Degree from Miami of Ohio.
Mr. Conner has spent the last decade in the franchise industry working with several hundred different franchise systems in management, franchise sales and franchise development work. His experience ranges across all fields of franchise expertise with a focus in franchise marketing and franchise sales but includes work in franchise strategic planning, franchise research and franchise operations consulting. Christopher has worked with multiple International franchise and licensed organizations throughout the United States, Middle East, India and Europe. He has an MBA in Finance and Marketing from DePaul University in Chicago and a Bachelors Degree from Miami of Ohio.

Image via The Founder, courtesy the Weinstein Company

As an entrepreneur, we all have what we would consider to be a good idea. Something that is to a degree innovative and unique in our respective market. Usually, the difference between a good business idea and a great business idea is what you decide to do with the concept after you’ve built and designed your brainchild. In recently watching the movie The Founder about the history of the McDonald’s franchise, I found myself feeling bad for the brothers who were the original innovators of the Speedee system, which transformed the way we eat forever. The brothers had developed what now is probably the largest single innovation in food service in the past 100 years or so. No one else had “systemized” food before the McDonald’s brothers. What limited the brothers from realizing their full potential was the idea of perfection. In business, many times perfection can be the enemy of progress and profit and the brothers were afraid of expansion in concern that they could duplicate the model perfectly. In fact, they even had abandoned the franchise model, which ultimately turned out to be Ray Kroc’s most effective channel of growth.

What the McDonald’s brothers failed to realize was that the concept needed to scale and go to market, even if the distribution wasn’t perfect. What Ray Kroc proved, as demonstrated in The Founder movie was that the act of scale and growth can be perfected once put into action. Ray Kroc took action and managed the obstacles to growth as they arose, his marketing and “bottom line” focus pushed a good idea into greatness and catapulted McDonald’s (MCD) into a global brand. Towards the end of the movie, it is mentioned that McDonald’s feeds 1% of the world population, which is mind blowing in its own right, but maybe even more so when considering that the McDonald’s brothers if left to their own devices may not have expanded the brand outside of San Bernardino.

Moral of the story, don’t sit on your idea forever, find opportunities to monetize the concept and execute.