Is consistency better than quality?

June 18, 2012

I haven’t been to a McDonalds for years (my strict dietary requirements prevent me!) but I’m still fascinated by the company and its fast growth.  Pick up any business book and you are sure to see McDonalds used as a shining example of business growth (conversely, pick up any book about business ethics or consumerism, you will see McDonalds bashed for its business practices).

Nobody can argue that McDonalds have the best quality hamburgers or food or drink but it does have something which is the envy of many businesses in the world and that thing is….


You know that when you walk in to a McDonalds joint, you know exactly what to expect…

– Queues that will go down very quickly
– A young, inexperienced but efficient team member
– An offer to go ‘large’
– Food, which as I said, ain’t the best but tastes exactly the same as it did the last time you went into McDonalds the last time

The truly craziest thing about McDonalds is that the food tastes the same anywhere in the world (although I believe they do change the recipes slightly in some parts of the world).  When you think about the pure logistics of this it is mind boggling.

So what does this mean for us in small business?

Well, McDonalds may be massive but they are a massive network of small businesses (franchise operations).  There is no reason why your own business cannot be as consistent as this, apart from – it is VERY hard to achieve and will take LOTS of time.  However, a choice may have to be made – do you want your customers to experience the best service some of the time or a lesser service all of the time.  Being able to fulfil your promise is one of the trickiest thing to pull off on a grand scale, maybe it’s time to lower the promise so that you can consistently fulfil it.


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