31 October 2011

Wherein I offer McDonald's some free advice

There are many things to consider when running a business, and everyone knows that McDonalds has a corporate secret sauce that rivals the creamy goodness on a big Mac. Unfortunately it doesn't always trickle down to their front line store staff.
There is one store in Hagerstown that has consistently failed to get right my coffee order since they began offering their mcCafe espresso-based drinks. I suppose most are buying the sugar and calorie laden mocha drinks, but all I want is some espresso in a cup. 2 shots of the stuff. Asking for this at a McDonald's in the “drive-thru” will have you met with dead air and blank stares, never mind the mystery-cup that awaits you when you get to the pickup window. Why is this so, when it's obvious that McDonald's is after Starbucks' business?
You can order a ridiculous number of variations on the old beef and bread combination that is the hamburger, but don't ask for two shots of espresso in a single cup. It's inconceivable to this staff that you might want more than one of a thing in the same cup. How can they handle so many quarter-pound permutations without breaking a sweat but fail to comprehend the words “I'd like two shots of espresso in one cup”? Maybe I should call it “expresso” (that’s the one thing this morning's window worker got right).
Maybe they are confused by the simplicity of it? Is the failure one of comprehension or is it a more corporate failure? Did someone at the corporate level, whomever is responsible for deciding what goes into the computer system, fail to realize that someone might want to drink more than one shot at a time? Did the person making the training video for espresso drinks (they had a video for EVERYTHING when I worked there in the 90’s - thank you, please drive through), or are the people working there simply too obtuse to work it out?
My hypothesis is that it has much more to do with a leadership failure rather than some deficiency in the employees themselves. The folks working at a McDonald's may or may not be tomorrow's trauma docs (I know someone like that) or fabulous Internet essayists (ahem), but they know how to get stuff done when it comes to McThings, which is why this is always so frustrating when I try to place my order. My first time through, years back, I made the mistake off trying to order an Americano. I'll not soon make that mistake again.
McDonald's, if you’re going to sell high end coffee drinks to people, if you want to eat Starbuck’s roasted lunch, then you need to get it right at all levels of offering. It can't be single shots or 10 ingredient drinkzillas; you need to cover the in-between, even if it's two shots of espresso with some hot water added for good measure. Because the thing is, your espresso is really tasty and I like it - and I'm a Starbucks gold card member, so I have a basis for comparison.

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