Menu Rollouts And The Equipment Equation
Bloomberg Business has been covering McDonald’s introduction of All-Day Breakfast, which the chain launched in early October. An Oct. 19 article brings up an aspect of the menu extension that coincides very much with this month's Exclusive about innovating equipment for a menu rollout. There’s no question that offering Egg McMuffins et al. for breakfast, lunch and dinner has created a lot of buzz and is bringing customers through the door. What caught my eye was the fact that the chain is using existing equipment to produce breakfast items alongside lunch/dinner items. Apparently, cooking hash browns and French fries simultaneously—and there are other examples of double-duty equipment in the rollout—has created a few production-capacity issues that need to be worked out.
In our Exclusive, Senior Contributing Editor Mike Sherer reports that chains equip themselves for a menu rollout in one of three ways: They use existing equipment, they purchase off-the-shelf equipment or they contract with manufacturers to create proprietary equipment. The pros and cons of each of these go-to-market strategies is the gist of his report. If you’re just introducing a limited-time offer, you want to keep capital expenses low. If you’re revamping the entire brand, the equipment selection can directly affect successful execution, and it may be very much worth it to develop the exact piece of equipment you need.
I’m sure McDonald’s menu-production issues will be resolved; if all-day breakfast is a keeper, McDonald’s certainly will figure out how to accommodate capacity. If it doesn’t last, the chain hasn’t made any major investments. Adapting to change is always hard, but there’d be no less dissention if operators had been asked to pay for and incorporate new equipment for some other menu-item introduction. The irony of the situation is that any menu rollout would be less disruptive if operators were given time to adapt and work out production kinks. But they’ll never get it because, for a rollout to work, you have to launch before popularity peaks.