Monday, October 20, 2014

Week of 10/20/2014

McDonalds: If You Need To Make It Harder, Then Why Bother?
So, as of this column, McDonald’s is in the middle of their annual Monopoly contest.
This is a contest that has been going on since 1987, and I remember when it first started.
Oh, I remember those days quite well!  Every opportunity I got when I was in college, we went to McDonald’s just to get game pieces.  We never really won anything serious.  We always got a handful of those common spaces, but never a complete set of them.  Every so often we’d win a free small fries or a burger.  But we’d still try, and we’d still come back to get more game pieces.  And then, when the contest was over, we’d eat a little better someplace else.
Of course there was a lot about going to McDonald’s back then that really doesn’t exist today.  The food portions used to be larger, the hot apple pies used to be hotter, and the contests used to last longer than just a month.
Yes, this year’s “Mickey-Dee’s” Monopoly contest is a little over a month long.  Get the pieces while you can because it will be over before you know it!
And while you’re at it, make sure you get the right food stuff to get the game pieces.  Once upon a time pretty much anything you ordered at McDonald’s would have game pieces on them.  Now they don’t.  Now you have to find out which items have game pieces on them, and some of them have double the pieces.  So if you want to get the maximum number of game pieces, you have to order a specific combination of sandwiches, sides, and drinks.  You can’t just order the “meal” package either.  That would make it too easy.
You would think that the individual restaurants would have the menu items listed that would have game pieces on them so you would know in advance what to get, but, no, they don’t.  You have to ask the cashier which ones have game pieces, and sometimes even they don’t know and have to check with their manager.  That really screws up their turnover time.  And that’s for walk-in customers; imagine having to do that in the drive thru!
All of which makes me wonder… why even bother having a contest at all?
Let’s get brutally honest here… if you’re having to intentionally make a contest complex and complicated for people to take part in, then you really have no business having one at all.
I understand why McDonald’s would want to limit the game pieces to only a certain number of menu items.  They want people to buy those items more than they currently do.  Why else order a Fillet-O-Fish sandwich, large fries, and medium drink?  But it would only work if people knew in advance before they place their orders.  And – news flash – not everyone has a web-capable cellphone; so you can’t simply tell them to check with the website while they’re waiting!
So if you’re not going to give all the menu items at least one game piece, you should at least make it very clear to customers which menu items have game pieces.  And I don’t mean “very clear” if they ask.  They should not have to ask.  You want them to take part in the contest, right?  Then you, McDonald’s, you have to actually take the steps needed to help them take part, such as putting signs up in the restaurants and the drive-thru that point out which menu items have game pieces.  You need them, McDonald’s execs, not the other way around.
And it would also help if you once again made the contest last longer than just one month.  This is supposed to be the corporate chain’s biggest and best time of the year.  You wouldn’t have kept it going this long even after the whole fraud scandal if it wasn’t profitable.  So don’t treat it like this is a burden, and certainly don’t let your franchise restaurants treat it as such either.
The whole reason why a big corporate restaurant chain like McDonald’s would have a contest in the first place is to get people into their restaurants and buying their meals.  That reason gets forgotten when the contest gets complex and complicated.  I understand that big corporate mentalities tend to lose track of little pesky things like that, but they’re the ones that ultimately lose out when those little pesky things cause their customers to not bother with the contest.  Because if big corporate McD’s fails, there’s always Burger King or Hardees or Chick-Fil-A or any number of other places ready and willing to pick up the slack.  And they don’t need a contest to win over those customers.  They just need to deliver what the customers want.

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