Friday, November 23, 2012
Foregoing Fast Food Forever
It's taken me decades to get the message; With the exception of In N Out Burger most fast food is just disgusting. I've studied the problem with fast food for years, thought and wrote about their flawed business model, and have finally decided to quit buying into those attractive TV commercials which always shows a 6-inch high Big Mac, with fresh crispy lettuce, a freshly baked bun and a hot tasty hamburger. It ain't happening!
Now, I'm not a frequent customer of fast food joints. I usually fall prey to fast food once a month or so, usually after watching one of those impossible images of the hamburger of my dreams. But, even my infrequent visits to Mickey D's or Burger King or Jack always ends with a sense of disgust. I loathe myself for having been suckered in yet again. I find myself eating a luke-warm hamburg with stale bun, near rotted tomato, a sprinkling of yellowed onion and wilted brown lettuce.
But, I'm over it now. I've given up and joined people I know who won't go near a fast food restaurant. These are the folks that still have a little dignity, that will pay a few extra bucks to go to Applebees or Chili's or Fuddruckers to get a freshly made burger and a hot platter of fries. After years of "quiet desperation", living with the hope that I'll finally get a good meal at a fast food joint, I've joined the "culinary elite". Go to hell Micky D!
During my career I was often called upon to come up with greater efficiencies in our operations and how to best serve the customer. So I have a natural bent for evaluating businesses. One of the first ironies that struck me about the fast food business model is the stark contrast that exists between corporate and franchise. For example, McDonald's spends hundreds of millions of dollars on their McDonald's University up in Chicago. They are constantly experimenting with food tasters and methods for delivering the product to the customer. After expending those hundreds of millions they then short change the customer by hiring a teenager at minimum wage to prepare and deliver the product. There's the rub! You've got some hormonally-charged teen that would just as well spit on your burger as to care whether the hamburg and fries are hot. After all, they get little respect from the bosses!
For a better model, look at In N Out Burger. The kids are paid about a third more than other fast food franchises and are given other benefits as well. Also, fortunately, if you want you can watch those kids preparing your food; it's all out in the open. There's no sense that a rebellious troll somewhere deep in the bowels of the greasy kitchen just waiting to do perverted things to your meal, as you might find at Burger King or McDonalds. And you know what? Those In N Out burgers are fresh; they've never been through a Microwave!
So, McDonalds and Burger King and Jack; you've been put on notice. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take your soggy mass of a meal anymore! If I can't find a burger at In N Out I'll pay a little extra to have a real live human ferry my meal to the table!