If you say ‘McDonalds’ to someone, anywhere in the world, it’s likely they will know what you mean. They probably would have been to one of the restaurants at least once in their lifetime, and as soon as you say the word will start conjuring up the golden arches In their mind (or chicken nuggets, chicken nuggets are life). So I was a bit surprised to be invited down to the Rayleigh McDonalds for a blogging event. I mean McDonald’s more or less brands itself now right?
Although it’s so globally recognized, you would still be surprised about how much effort McDonalds put into finding out what customers want, and giving it to them. All of the quality monitoring goes up to head office, as well as being fed back to restaurant managers.
Pete, the franchisee of the Rayleigh restaurant, has worked for Mcdonalds for a whopping 36 years. He’s worked for them for longer than I’ve actually been alive as a person. How good is that for staff retention?
So the reason we were invited down, is because the Rayleigh Weir McDonalds have just had a massive revamp and refurb. The focus of the whole idea, is to make the restaurant more accessible for the customer, and enhance their experience with McDonalds.
The first thing you will notice when you arrive, and something you may have noticed in other McDonalds recently, is the addition of digital kiosks. These little touchscreen wonders let you browse through the whole menu, order, and either collect at the till or have your food delivered to the comfort of your seat. Me and the two lovely ladies at Memories of Mayhem Blog and Mums the Word all agreed that this opened up a lot more choice. I don’t know about all of you but I have a blind panic every time I get to the till and order the same thing whenever I go (chicken nugget happy meal and a double cheeseburger in case you wondered). For example, we found out through the digital kiosks that you can have a salad or fruit bag with any meal. Who knew? I mean, it’s still highly unlikely that I’m going to, but at least I know the options there.
Not only does this make it a LOT easier for the customer, but it gives you so much choice. Everything is made to order. I am a long time big mac avoider due to the fact that I simply hate mayonnaise or anything remotely like it, so I was quite shocked to find out you can actually have a big mac with ketchup instead. What a win!
It also cuts down on waste, massively. McDonalds are big on making sure they are as environmentally friendly as possible. I bet you didn’t know that they recycle all of their cooking oil and use it as fuel? They also have a ‘never empty’ policy which means if a van is full going, it’s full coming back. All of these innovations are things that you can probably find out with a little bit of research on their website, but let’s face it no one does that. It’s easy to think of McDonalds as a massive global conglomerate that spawns misinformed documentaries about its food and makes billions, because it’s packaged to you like that through other people’s opinions. What people don’t realise is how realistic it is to make healthy choices while in store and how much Mcdonalds put into reducing their carbon footprint and only offering quality ingredients.
So they are going all digital. What does that mean for the staff?
Absolutely nothing. Well, more job opportunities if anything. Now that all food is made to order, it’s all hands on deck. I actually also personally noticed a lot more staff present on the actual shop floor, which is great. There’s always something gravely important you need to ask while you sit down to your cheeseburger. “Can I have a balloon?” is usually my one. Working in Mcdonalds, unfairly, gets quite a bit of a negative reaction. I don’t know why. Mcdonalds carry out direct observations on their staff twice a week. Just to put it into perspective, care companies are only legally obliged to do direct observations every three months. McDonalds train in house, and also fund degrees. They are big on keeping the talent with the company, and you will find that most managers have actually been front line staff.
Now comes the fun bit…
Yes, the fun bit. I got to uniform up and MAKE MY OWN BIG MAC. We were taken into the kitchen (which was spotlessly clean by the way) and showed the ropes. A lot of people asked me after ‘how long do they keep the food there’ and the answer is they pretty much don’t. Now everything is made to order, there isn’t and food sitting about on counters waiting to be chosen. The meat ingredients are kept under very strict temperature controls from the minute they get into the delivery van to when you eat them, the uncooked big mac patties are only kept at just below room temperature for regulation for two hours before they are refreshed.For the employees, they have a little guide which tells you how to make each burger. That was great for me, because after being shown how to do it once, I actually managed to get my lettuce and onion the wrong way round. You wouldn’t believe the amount of precision that goes into all of the food. Certain amounts of lettuce, etc etc. There’s even a ‘set way’ to do the gherkins. One thing I did pick up on while being behind the scenes, is how happy the staff team were. Everyone was helpful, happy to explain things and just genuinely looked like they were enjoying themselves.
The restaurant floor has also had a bit of a tech revamp, and they now have normal plugs, USB chargers sockets and iPads. How cool is that? You could spend hours in there.
Apparently, they are working on an app so that you can actually order your McDonalds on your phone before you collect it in store.
In a completely unrelated matter, I’m off to join a gym.
(Side note – although this blog is sponsored I think we all know I wouldn’t lie to you all about something as important as food)