McDonald's has a plan to win back customers

To win back customers, McDonald’s told investors Wednesday that it will be taking a range of steps, from improving the quality of its burgers, to ramping up delivery to rolling out more modern spaces where diners can order a meal with the tap of a screen.

The fast food giant briefly halted trading Wednesday as executives revealed the company's plans to once again be a destination for diners seeking a quick meal, and ultimately boost annual sales growth between 3% and 5% starting in 2019.

“To grow, we must grow guest counts,’’ McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said during a meeting with investors in Chicago. “It’s as plain and simple as that.’’

The restaurant chain has introduced all-day breakfast, rolled out novelties such as a junior and jumbo-sized version of its iconic Big Mac, and put more of its restaurants in the hands of franchisees. But executives noted that more needs to be done to reverse a trend in which once-loyal customers are bypassing McDonald’s for its rivals.

“We have to attract more customers, more often,’’ says Lucy Brady, the company’s senior vice-president for corporate strategy and business development. “We’ve lost hundreds of millions of visits from our core customers - students, teachers, construction workers’’ and others.

To win back once-loyal diners, as well as attract new customers, the global restaurant chain is ramping up convenience, the quality of its food, and categories like coffee that offer ample opportunities for growth.

“Some of our best customers just aren’t visiting as much as they used to and we know why,’’ Brady said. “Our historical advantages of quality, convenience and value didn’t keep pace . . .We’re making meaningful improvement in our food, particularly our burger and chicken offerings.’’

More than 3,500 McDonald’s restaurants, primarily in Asia and the Mid-East, offer delivery. And with  75% of the population in top markets like the U.S. living within 3 miles of a McDonald’s restaurant, the company is looking at expanding delivery options, including possible partnerships with services like Seamless.

And coffee, the beverage that has fueled the success of other global chains like Starbucks, is also being eyed as an offering that can turn occasional visitors into repeat customers.

The chain is also continuing the roll-out of its “experience of the future,’’ eateries that allow customers to order and pay for sandwiches,fries and other purchases at kiosks, rather than a counter, and then have the food delivered to their tables.

In the U.S., the upgrades will be rolled out to roughly 2,500 locations by the end of this year, with most of the nation’s 14,000 restaurants revamped by 2020, according to Chris Kempczinski, president of McDonald’s USA.

USA TODAY


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