Magazine article Management Today

Old McDonald Had a Great Idea

Magazine article Management Today

Old McDonald Had a Great Idea

Article excerpt

Were it not for a highly efficient blender, two brothers and a Raymond Kroc's cranial bumps we might all still be eating amorphous, non-standardised hamburgers.

Phrenology - predicting an individual's aptitudes from the shape of the skull - was fast falling into disrepute by the turn of the century. Thus, a phrenologist's 1906 diagnosis of the man behind McDonald's must be one of the calling's last great triumphs. After running his hands over four-year-old Raymond Kroc's cranium, the doctor opined that the child's future lay in the food services sector.

To be fair, the phrenologist's prediction took its time bearing fruit. At 15, Kroc drove ambulances, with stints as a jazz pianist and an estate agent following. After these, he began a 30-year career as a salesman, touting paper cups and other sundries to America's budding fast food industry. By the 1940s, he had become the exclusive distributor of the Multimixer, a wondrous blender whose USP was its ability to chum five milkshakes simultaneously. One day in 1954, Kroc, then 52, went to visit two of his best customers, Maurice and Richard McDonald. The duo had purchased a staggering eight Multimixers for their eponymous restaurant in San Bernadino, near Los Angeles.

What Kroc saw in the sleepy desert town astounded him. No stranger to shoddy, down-at-heel burger shacks and drive-thrus, he knew that this operation was different: the restaurant was clean, modern, inexpensive and (mirabile dictu) boasted a basic burger production line. In his autobiography, Kroc recalls, 'I felt like some latter-day Newton, who'd just had an Idaho potato caromed off his skull'. Thus, the following day, he approached the brothers McDonald and, after much cajoling, came to an arrangement whereby he would sell franchises for $950 apiece and 1.4% of sales while the brothers would receive 0.5% of sales. Surprisingly, this was a deal which much favoured the brothers - Kroc had to do everything, their cut was, so to speak, money for jam.

In 1955, Kroc opened the first new store and quickly became obsessed by the business which spawned his oft-quoted diktat, 'I believe in God, family and McDonald's - and in the office that order is reversed'. …

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