McDonald’s works to change its image

I hadn’t been inside a McDonald’s in a long time, but must admit I couldn’t resist the occasional drive through.  Well, I had the opportunity to go to a newly renovated one and the restaurant experience is greatly improved.

The outside of the restaurant looked the same as all of the other McDonald’s I have seen.  That is where the similarities ended.  I walked in to a new colour scheme, a more spacious order counter and a rather large menu.  A large aquarium stocked with fish was the centre piece.

While waiting in line I noticed that there was a soda fountain where customers fill their own drinks.  For some time McDonald’s allowed free refills although I don’t ever remember seeing this advertised.  Now they are implicitly giving customers the go ahead to do it themselves.

Instead of hard plastic chairs, there were comfy bar stools, booths and chairs.  LCD TVs littered the walls.  Customers were watching television while others were reading free newspapers.

There’s even McWiFi!  It appears that McDonald’s is no longer trying to serve you quickly and usher you out the door.  The restaurant actually feels modern and inviting.  McDonald’s has spent millions trying to get customers out of the current mindset of fast food.  Instead they encourage you to loiter, even more so than the previous generation of Playlands.

After glancing at the menu there was something I noticed immediately: a much more comprehensive listing of food with calorie counts beside the items.  Morgan Spurlock would have a difficult time looking as sickly and out of shape, eating the current listings.  It would certainly take him longer than a month.

McDonald’s has taken it a step further.  There web site now has their own version of myth busters but it is their Nutrition Calculator that is fantastic!  Using this tool, I learned a few things (for example the Classic Grilled Chicken Sandwich has 11 g of fat and 390 calories).   With the interactive food guide, you can drag and drop menu items on to your virtual tray.  It will display full nutritional information for those items.

These tools allow customers to make informed decisions on what they are eating.  Coupled with the visual change, McDonald’s is making an extra effort to create a positive customer experience.

Now there is one component, in my opinion that still needs work.  The training for employees including management needs a makeover.  As I waited in line and marvelled at the change that appeared before me, two staff members were in debate about their manager, right in front of the customers.  Perhaps these two were just having a bad day, but all the time and money spent on an image change could have come crashing down in a moment.

It was only a moment in time and overall I am still impressed with the changes, and look forward to my next treat.

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