McDonald’s just made an aggressive move that could actually improve customer service


But who’s going to do the work?

Screenshot by ZDNet

As the pandemic has worn on and worn humans out, one or two companies have prospered.

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Fast food conglomerates, for example, managed to stay open and do business, while so many traditional restaurants had to shut down.

Moreover, the fast-food companies benefited from the glory of apps to deliver food to people’s doors, enhancing modern Americans’ twin penchants for abject lassitude and instant gratification.

One beneficiary of all this, of course, was the cabal of tech-driven delivery companies that gouged restaurants so shamelessly, so much so that certain cities chose to put a limit on their commissions.

Meanwhile, the fast-food people struggled to hire sufficient staff to cope with the increasing numbers arriving at their restaurants. Many dining rooms remained closed, even when the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

And then someone at McDonald’s began to realize that the company was so big and powerful that it could wrest back some dominance from the likes of DoorDash and Uber Eats.

So it was that, in a little-reported announcement, McDonald’s declared it had arranged for “new deals” with both those delivery companies.

One can’t conceive that these new deals were more advantageous for anyone but McDonald’s.

Indeed as Restaurant Business has it, McDonald’s proudly sniffed that its franchisees should see greater profits and healthier cash flow as a result of McDonald’s perfectly understandable muscling.

Because you still believe in humanity, you might think that McDonald’s and its operators should invest some of those profits into hiring more people, thereby improving the customer’s lot.

You might also think sofas should be made of raspberry jelly.

Yes, it’s conceivable that offering even better pay and conditions to potential recruits might attract them to the McDonald’s fold and improve its customer service.

However, many will fear that the vast majority of these increased profits will line the coffers of the operators.

Delivery is becoming an ever-increasing element of McDonald’s revenue. The company believes it’s uniquely positioned to deliver on delivery because it has so many darned restaurants. Ergo, it’s easier to get warm(ish) food to grateful customers. The food doesn’t have to travel so far.

Somehow, though, McDonald’s was, in certain cases, paying 15% to delivery companies. Which seems quite an enormous percentage in a relatively low-margin operation.

Then again, if the delivery companies will now be making less money, where are they going to themselves find staff and pay them anything resembling an attractive wage?

At a time of the so-called Great Resignation, where many employees refuse to be tempted by low pay and poor conditions, what can McDonald’s — or DoorDash and Uber Eats — offer anyone who might be interested? (Well, Door Dash just started hiring drivers who are full-time employees).

It’s one thing to attract customers with successful campaigns featuring Mariah Carey, Travis Scott, Saweetie and J Balvin. It’s another to ensure there’s an infrastructure in place to support the increased business such campaigns may generate.

But if you’re a company already investing heavily in technology — robot ordering at the drive-thru, for example — perhaps your dream is to make the restaurant’s ghost kitchens and the business merely one run on vending machine principles.

The world has changed considerably in the last two years.

Do kids even go to play at McDonald’s anymore? Will they ever again?

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