Book Review – McDonald’s Behind the Golden Arches

The book,”McDonald’s Behind the Golden Arches”, by John Love is an intriguing book on how Ray Kroc took an existing restaurant and created a franchise system that is emulated and duplicated around the world. McDonald’s epitomizes success and familiarity. On my personal travels around the world, my wife and I have found McDonald’s to be similar (almost exact) in France, Philippines, etc. mcdvoice com

This book gives a detailed account on the success pattern of the McDonald’s franchise. The secret behind its immense success is Ray Kroc. Who was Ray Kroc? Where did he get the name of McDonald’s? What did he do differently to make this restaurant chain succeed? These and many other questions are explained in the book.

McDonald’s was a single hamburger restaurant in San Bernardino, California. It had a simple menu of burgers, fries, sodas, and milkshakes. Its operational functions were simple. Its marketing functions was non-existent- just word of mouth. It was owned and operated by the McDonald brothers (hence the name). Ray was a milkshake salesman who was fascinated that this restaurant ordered many milkshake machines from the company he worked for. When he went and observed the operations at McDonald’s, he wanted to create more of these restaurants. The book depicts that the McDonald brothers were happy with the local operation and did not want to expand.

Ray Kroc was fascinated with the simple operation at McDonald’s. The simplicity of its menu and uniformity of its workers and other operations made it a possible duplicatable process. Then, Ray Kroc made a deal with the McDonald brothers to expand the restaurant beyond its local restaurant. He opened the first new McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illiinois in 1955. How was Ray able to raise the capital and money for this new restaurant? This is where the story gets interesting. He expanded upon the concept of franchising. Though he gave opportunities to other people through franchising, he still had control on whether they could get more franchises. He wanted to make sure that they duplicated the simple menu, kept high cleanliness standards, did not add or take away from the menu, etc. Ray Kroc demanded and expected duplication and cleanliness.

There are many interesting stories on who and how they became franchisees. Ray Kroc wanted franchisees who were profit motivated. One interesting story was a franchisee named George Bell. He wanted to add to the menu which Ray Kroc was against. Instead, he opened his own franchise named Taco Bell. Ray Kroc did not break even until many years after creating more and more franchises.