Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes
One day out of curiosity I decided to take a McDonald’s® hamburger, remove the bun, take off the pickle, scrape off the condiments, and eat it (back in my beef eating days). Don’t ask me what motivated me to do this—perhaps it was just the natural curiosity of a 13-year-old. I’ll never forget the mad dash I took running to the bathroom thinking I was going to lose it. I did manage to keep the hamburger down, but that experience led me to a question that I would not find the answer to until years later: if McDonald’s® hamburgers taste so bad*, why are they the largest hamburger franchise in the world?
Let me ask you this, do you think you can make a better-tasting hamburger than McDonald’s®? Nine out of ten people answer an emphatic “yes” to that question. If you are one of them, then why don’t you own a multi-billion-dollar hamburger franchise? McDonald’s® is not the leader in mass produced processed carcasses because they have the best hamburger, but because they have the best business system.
McDonald’s® is where they are today because they make a fair tasting hamburger (providing you keep the bun and don’t scrape off the condiments), sell it for a good price, and really know how to run a business. It is not the product that makes the business, but more often, the business that makes the product.
One day at the mall, I bought my niece her “Happy Meal™” at McDonald’s®. Within seconds of ordering, our complete order was ready to go, on a tray with napkins, plasticware, and all. Before I could put my change in my pocket, the cashier was already helping the next guest. I thought to myself, “Wow... they really have an efficient system going here.” As I witnessed first hand, it was this efficient system that allowed them to service about twice as many customers in the same time frame as the other businesses could in the same food court.
Success in business is not always about having the best product; it is about creating the best possible business system that will market the product. Too often when faced with slow sales, business people immediately ask themselves, “How can we make our product/service better?” rather than, “How can we better market our product/service?” Product quality is very important, but it is not the determining factor for a business’ success.
This same principle holds true even if you do not own a business. Are the top people in companies always the smartest or best suited for the position? How many times have you thought, “I am sure I can do a better job than he can”? We each maintain our own “business system” which consists of the same basic components: being efficient in what we do and marketing ourselves. In the case of an individual, the individual is the “product.”
Before reevaluating your product or service, and spending big money on improving a product that customers are already happy with, ask yourself the following question, “Is the problem really with our product or service?” Remember that you can please some of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time. Are you basing your opinion on a large enough percentage or just a vocal few? If your goal is to increase profits, then look at factors such as efficiency, negotiating better prices with suppliers, and automation. If your goal is to increase sales, then first look at your marketing and promotion.
You can have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it, and you do not have an efficient business system in place to fill the demand for your product, then your business has a slim chance of success. Focus on the business of your product or service and success will follow.
* This is the opinion of the author, and it is not a proven fact that McDonald’s® hamburgers taste bad. In other words, McDonald’s® people... please don’t sue me.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)