PLANT

Achieve McBusiness success

Emulate McDonalds' processes.


A McDonald's restaurant in Las Vegas. PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

A McDonald’s restaurant in Las Vegas. PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

Most lean practitioners will tout the power and benefits of the Toyota Production System (TPS) … but is it the best? It’s founded on “Respect for People” which evokes Toyota’s belief in the lifetime employment of its team members. However, in the real world more migrant contract or temp labour is being used.

Wayne Vanwyck, founder and CEO of The Achievment Centre International in London, Ont., who trains and coaches business owners, wrote an article for Profit Magazine recently recommending companies emulate McDonald’s. Let’s look at the restaurant chain from a lean perspective applying Vanwycke’s insights.

Start by looking at your organization as if it were a McDonald’s franchise and focusing on processes rather than the menu. Vanwycke referenced The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, who asserts process differentiates successful companies from the also-rans. Gerber writes that franchises succeed because they have a clearly defined system or process for everything – including hiring staff, invoicing, greeting customers, selling, performance reviews and coaching. Business owners should do the same.

McDonald’s is successful because it’s predictable and consistent, anywhere in the world, Vanwycke notes. The facilities are always clean, the employees always wear uniforms, the menu is the same (aside from local variations), the food tastes the same and employees engage customers in exactly the same way.

Enhancing TPS
Vanwycke says building documented processes will increase sales; reduce costs and expenses; help you hire the right employees and retain the best ones; partner with the right suppliers and distributors; and keep your customers coming back. It will also make your business easier to manage, easier to sell when the time comes, and it will be worth far more to a buyer.

He recommends focusing on the single, most important part of the business that could benefit immediately from a systematic process. Let’s not forget methodologies used by Toyota have significant merit in other businesses but can be enhanced with some McDonald’s flavour. Every McDonald’s employee is instructed shortly after hiring that “if you have time to lean you have time to clean,” a mantra they recite when they have moved on to manufacturing and implementing 5S within their plants.

Attaining consistency requires heavy investment in process development to make it easy and repeatable. You may think such standardization within McDonald’s stifles innovation. Not so. Innovation thrives even at the franchise level but it’s vetted at the corporate level. If the innovation measures up, it’s quickly deployed as a new best practice.

So pick a process, concludes Vanwycke, then define, refine and repeat. Being “franchisable” even though it’s not what you intend to do, will help make your business successful.

Richard Kunst is president and CEO of Cambridge, Ont.-based Kunst Solutions Corp., which publishes the “Lean Thoughts” e-newsletter and helps companies become more agile, develop evolutionary management and implement lean solutions.

This article appears in the May/June 2015 issue of PLANT.

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