Early McDonald's restaurant, circa 1960
In 1954 Ray Kroc, a Multimixer salesman, took notice of the restaurants started by Mac and Dick McDonald in San Bernadino, CA in 1948. McDonald's was a highly focused, highly visible operation, featuring a simple menu (hamburgers, cheeseburgers, French fries, shakes and fountain soda), high quality ingredients and walk-up windows. Kroc partnered with the Brothers McDonald to franchise their speedy service system, then worked out the means to secure financing and expand the concept.
Kroc's unique genius was his ability to organize a highly distributed business network that promoted efficiency and rapid growth. Rather than waste resources on vertical integration, Kroc kept McDonald's operators focused on delivering a high quality experience to consumers, what he called "Quality, Service and Cleanliness."
Behind the scenes he built his enterprise by partnering with experts to provide essential services that his business lacked the scale to provide efficiently on its own. He and his small, entrepreneurial staff rapidly and successfully extended the enterprise by concentrating on core development processes:
- Maintaining control of product quality and operations
- Securing long-term rights, by lease or ownership, to the most promising restaurant locations
- Recruiting and training highly motivated franchisees
- Advertising the the service experience and promoting the product
- Securing a reliable stream of ingredient supply
- Designing efficient operations and accommodating them with functional, distinctive and attractive structures
By 1972 the McDonald's system was generating $1 billion in sales through 2200 restaurants. Kroc was preparing for global expansion.
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Also of interest:
"Why Do Fries Taste So Good? A Brief History," by Scott Horsley, NPR
Behind the Golden Arches (New York: Bantam Books, 1986), by John F. Love
Grinding it Out: The Making of McDonald's, by Ray Kroc with Robert Anderson (Chicago: Contemporary Books, Inc., 1977)
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