3 min read

Blue Cheese, Big Macs & Senior Living

Blue Cheese, Big Macs & Senior Living

McDonald's burgers and E-Myth principles vs. senior living and the lack of standards.

Last week I went to McDonalds and had the best experience. I ordered a hamburger, cooked medium rare, with crumbled blue cheese and fried onions, delivered on a toasted English Muffin, with a side of seasoned fries with ranch dressing. I’m sure you’ve done the same.

mcd4Of course, you haven’t.

McDonald’s has pickles, chopped onions, ketchup, and American cheese on a white bun and doesn’t let you choose your temperature. If you want what I ordered, you need a diner or some other specialty burger place.


Who cares, you ask?

mcd5Let’s talk about the tradeoffs.

McDonald’s Pros: cost is low, service is fast, and the burger tastes the same anywhere I order it (except for those weird places that add mustard for some reason). You can train a 16-year-old with no experience how to make it. You can set up systems to cook it the same way, and deliver it the same way, and if someone wants a variation? No big deal.

There are only a few things that could be put on the burger anyway. You can monitor how long everything takes, and as a business, you know exactly what a burger costs, down to the local cost of electricity, water, and building taxes. This allows the franchisee to decide how to leverage space, how much to pay people, and leverage marketing tools from corporate.

They also benefit from seeing peak customer orders from their POS (point of sales system) so that they can staff based on customer demand. If no one is ordering the McRib on Fridays, cut the order in half. They can scale by adding a drive-thru because the cooks can crank out burgers at an amazing pace.


And they don’t have to worry when people quit because making a burger at McDonald's has been defined so clearly, and everyone is trained exactly the same way, it’s easy to replace them. People can do each other's jobs as the longer they work there. McDonald’s is built to be efficient, drive huge profits, and scale to whatever volume the location demands.

Cons: the burger isn’t medium rare with blue cheese and fried onions. But…when I walk into a diner, what am I really gonna get? How fresh are the ingredients? Is the cook any good? It’s definitely going to be more expensive at a diner and take a lot longer. It’s all a mystery. So, maybe I’ll just play it safe and get that crappy McDonalds burger.

Sub out McDonalds for Shake Shack, In & Out, whatever. They all have the same limited ingredients, consistent delivery, and lower cost.

So ask yourself

Are you serving the most amazing hamburgers on planet Earth, with the best ingredients and cooks, at the right price, where scaling and efficiency don’t matter? Where it’s easy to find the best cooks, and they never leave? Or are you relying on every person you hire to figure it out based on a binder, previous experience, and hope? Are you measuring things to scale, lower costs, train consistently, and easily plug in the next person without missing a beat? Are you treating your business like a high-quality diner, charging like a high-end diner, paying people like it's a high-end diner? Or do you want to be a high-end diner but have a lot of McDonalds in your veins?

I know you aren’t making hamburgers.

You’ve already said that to yourself. What you do is way more complicated, with more variables and more difficult decisions. This is a cute analogy, but it doesn’t apply. I mean, you don’t need any of the things that apply to McDonalds because things are more complex in Senior Living.

Now, take a beat and let that thought sink in. You don’t need those things or can’t do those things because you are more complex.

"What could the success of a massive fast-food chain possibly have in common with my communities?" The answer is that it’s more about the mindset and approach to business than they are about specific industries. Systems ensure consistency, quality, traceability, and efficiency. Are you really saying you don’t want any of those things?


If you are not familiar with the book The E-Myth, here it is. ebook

I encourage you to read at least a summary and ask yourself why you are not trying to be more like McDonalds in whatever way makes sense for you. Why not embrace systems for people and processes to enable your people to scale and, therefore, your business to scale?

The approach applies to any industry. The concepts are universal for any business, regardless of its complexity or uniqueness - whether you're making hamburgers or caring for seniors. 

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