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Monday, September 1st, 2014

Why Burger King Will Never Beat McDonald’s

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john belushi food fight Why Burger King Will Never Beat McDonalds

John Belushi in Animal House Screams "Food Fight!"

As a former McDonald’s marketing guy, I pay attention to references of the so-called “burger wars” – as some people still call them – but please they’ve been over for years!

I ask you, “Is it really a war when the number one kid on the block – McDonald’s – continues to open up it’s marketing can of “whoop-ass” on just about any retailer that serves food and/or beverages and on average does it better, faster and cheaper than anyone else?”

The answer is, “No!”

What went wrong at Burger King, by Dan Mitchell in the September 3rd issue of Fortune caught by eye and he’s spot on in so many areas as to what’s wrong at BK.

However, I’d argue (and I’m proud to say without reservation) that the main reason Burger King will never beat McDonald’s, is that “Mia McFamlia” still walks founder Ray Kroc’s talk when he famously said, “We take the hamburger business more seriously than anyone else!”

McDonald’s personnel, owner/operators and partners have always worked together and have been in it to win it from day one. Sure, they got a little of track a few years back – who doesn’t after being so incredibly successful for so long – but Burger King has been off track for over 30 years!

McDonald’s recognized  awhile back with its “Plan to Win” initiative that to quote Pogo, “We have met the enemy and they is us!” So they got back to work and focused more on themselves and satisfying their guests changing needs. Bravo.

OK, so McDonald’s takes the burger biz more seriously than BK and others. You get it you say, but I know you want more substance.  OK…here’s 5 more reasons why Burger King will never beat McDonald’s.

  1. All of McDonald’s staffers, owner/operators and partners (or at least 99% of all of them) own stock in the brand and know that if the brand improves so does their financial situation. All of BK’s corporate behemoth owners (before and now) own other things.  McDonald’s is (practically) all McDonald’s.
  2. McDonald’s is just plain better – they’re more innovative, financially astute and they execute better.
  3. McDonald’s owns 100% (OK 90% plus) of the real estate the restaurants sit on which provides enormous cash flow and bankable assets
  4. McDonald’s owner/operators are part of the fabric of the communities in which they do their business, they’re involved in the communities, are operationally excellent and are not absentee landlords
  5. McDonald’s constantly reinvests in improving their restaurants, operations, staff and more.  BK is just now trying to get around to it

So, do you really think Burger King’s new owner, the Brazilian-backed private equity firm 3G Capital can ever beat McDonald’s? Neither do I.

BK is way behind in the pack.  They haven’t even been number two for a long time. And if you think the view never changes if you’re not the lead dog well…

P.S.: Here’s one more case in point about the lack of commitment by BK to challenge McDonald’s. About 15 years ago, I was part of a team organized to help put Burger King out of business in downtown Pittsburgh.  The BK franchisee was selling and we simply turned the heat up and got a great franchisee to take over some of our corporate restaurants. BK closed up all of their restaurants then and have never reopened in town to date. I know Pittsburgh isn’t the Big Apple or LA, but come on!

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