Check this out: Bachelor of Hamburgerology!

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McDonald's sells 75 burgers every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every year - that's over 2 billion burgers a year. By the time you finished reading that sentence, it just sold another 600 burgers.

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Consistency is at the heart of this global success story

At the heart of the incredible worldwide success of McDonalds - which has seen it grow to over 35,000 fast food restaurants across over 100 countries - is one key attribute: CONSISTENCY. Any globetrotter can walk into any McDonald's restaurant anywhere in the world, knowing exactly what he is going to get - the d├ęcor, the ambience, the menu options, the service standards, the turnaround time, the quality.

Why consistency is important - read: 4 pillars of dependability and A brand that became a verb.

Some may like McDonalds, some may not - that's not the point. McDonalds knows whom it is seeking to serve and does a great job in offering an absolutely consistent experience to its target audience, in any part of the world. But, that's the outcome, whereas this article seeks to focus on how they got to this outcome - because it is the how that contains great insights for distributors who wish to scale up and yet continue delivering exactly the same experience that they currently do personally.

Consistency is their DNA

Ray Kroc was a kitchen equipment salesman in 1954 when he stumbled upon a successful fast food restaurant in California, run by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald. He persuaded them to give him a licence to franchise their McDonald's restaurant, which they permitted in 1955. Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald's franchise in 1955 in his home state Illinois. Kroc was the visionary who saw potential in this business far beyond the McDonald brothers could even dream of. Kroc set the tone for McDonald's growth with these two famous quotes:

"It doesn't matter if you're visiting a McDonald's in California or Connecticut, America or Australia - you're going to have a similar experience wherever you are."

McDonald's motto: "Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value"

The Hamburger University

Kroc realised that delivering on this ambition would need an extraordinary effort in ensuring consistency even as he built scale - consistency in every aspect of his restaurant business. Thus was born a unique corporate university - the Hamburger University.

Here are some facts about Hamburger University, from Wikipedia:

Hamburger University is a 130,000-square-foot (12,000 m2) training facility of McDonald's, located in Oak Brook, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago. This corporate university was designed to instruct personnel employed by McDonald's in the various aspects of restaurant management. More than 80,000 restaurant managers, mid-managers and owner/operators have graduated from this facility.

Today, Hamburger University is situated on an 80 acres (32 ha) campus with 19 full-time resident instructors. The facility comprises 13 teaching rooms, a 300-seat auditorium, 12 interactive education team rooms, and 3 kitchen labs. Hamburger University interpreters can provide simultaneous interpretation, and the faculty has the ability to teach in 28 different languages. Restaurant employees receive approximately 32 hours of training in their first month with McDonald's and more than 5,000 students attend Hamburger University each year.Founder Ray Kroc oversaw lessons at its beginning. Although Kroc died in 1984, he appears in videotaped lectures that are still used at Hamburger University.

Hamburger University today operates 7 campuses worldwide: Illinois (USA), Tokyo, London, Sydney, Munich, Sao Paulo and Shanghai. Worldwide, over 275,000 people have graduated from Hamburger University. The University has a bachelor's degree like none other: Bachelor of Hamburgerology!

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Lessons for us in financial products distribution

If you want your brand to be seen as dependable by your target clients, you need to take that extra effort in ensuring consistency, like McDonald's has done. Not everyone will set up a University, but it's the thought process that needs to be imbibed.

If you are an IFA who is looking to build a team, think about the Hamburger University and apply its lessons in your business. Create clearly documented operating manuals for every aspect of your business - sales, marketing, research, advisory, transaction execution, service and operations. Document every repeatable process, review each documented process once in 6 months to ensure relevance. Set up an induction and ongoing training program for every member of your team - however large or small the team is - to ensure that they fully understand your operating manuals and are working entirely in accordance with laid out processes, every time.

If you are a large brand with multiple branches and hundreds if not thousands of people interfacing with investors and helping them with their investment and insurance needs, you need to think a lot more about the Hamburger University. The key is this - Ray Kroc did not outsource training to an external agency as a "tick box" item - he built his own academy (which then grew into a University) and led the education piece from the front. He personally devoted time, effort and energy into instilling consistency into the DNA of the company - which is what has today enabled it to become the global giant that it has.

Think about what you are currently doing to ensure consistency in delivery of advice, guidance and service across your entire network, think of how the Hamburger University is actually doing this in their network, think of exactly how consistent your service delivery actually is across your network, this of how consistent McDonalds actually is - and if you find gaps, do take on some action points for yourself to address these gaps. Consistency can truly build scale beyond your imagination - its worth your while to invest in consistency.

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