How McDonald’s Australia Will Change Under Its ‘Turnaround Plan’

How McDonald’s Australia Will Change Under Its ‘Turnaround Plan’

Globally, McDonald’s is bleeding customers like a McOz bleeds beetroot juice. US McHeadquarters has just announced plans for a massive corporate restructuring, but how will that impact Macca’s down under? Here’s what you need to know as a fast food junkie or occasional McMuffin consumer.

To be clear, McDonald’s isn’t actually losing money. However, it isn’t growing — sales in its most recent quarter fell 2.3 cent globally — and when you’re a listed company, the official market view is that not growing simply isn’t good enough.

So the panic button has been hit, and McDonald’s is pursuing a major restructuring that will see it sell more company-owned stores to franchisees, as well as simplify its menu and change its global structure. The wide range of items a typical McDonald’s now sells means that you almost always have to wait for your food, and customers don’t like that.

The most important point if you eat McDonald’s down under: the local operation has never been an exact replica of the US, so not everything that happens there is necessarily going to be copied. McDonald’s is currently running TV ads locally to remind us that the McCafe concept was invented here, but there are plenty of other examples.

There’s no pink slime in the burgers. You can’t easily buy oatmeal for breakfast. The US is just starting delivery trials, but we’ve had that option in Australia for some time. (It isn’t very good, but that’s not the point.) We’ve even seen experimental stores without McDonald’s branding at all. Most importantly, McDonald’s Australia is more generous with its pay than its US parent.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be changes. McDonald’s global goal is for 90 per cent of restaurants to be owned by franchisees, rather than operated by the company directly. (McDonald’s originally expanded using only the franchise model, but in the 1970s owning company stores became more common.)

In Australia, around two-thirds of stores are owned by franchisees. To hit that 90% target, it seems inevitable some company-owned stores will be sold off. Sea change with a burger, anyone?

McDonald’s is also reorganising its corporate structure. Australia will be placed in a group labelled “International Lead Markets”, along with the UK, Canada, France and Germany. These collectively account for 40 per cent of global sales. (The US on its own accounts for another 40 per cent.)

The McLogic is that as these are similar markets in terms of structure and penetration, running them together should be cheaper and they may be able to borrow ideas off each other. “McDonald’s new structure will more closely align similar markets so they can better leverage their collective insights, energy and expertise to deliver a stronger menu, service, and overall experience for our customers.” CEO Steve Easterbrook said when announcing the plan. Doug Goare, who currently runs McDonald’s Europe, will head that division; if he’s looking to transplant ideas, we’d suggest copying McDonald’s Germany and serving beer. Alas, licensing laws make that unlikely.

What changes would you like to see Macca’s make? Tell us in the comments.


  • There is only so much growing a company can do. I never go to McDonald’s by choice, there are many much better burgers available. About the only time I ever go there is with my little one because he likes it.

    • Yeah your right. They have much more competition these days from ‘premium’ burger joints, that in reality are far better value in price for what you actually get.

      Large “McValue” meal usually around $10.
      Burger with large chips and a drink from, say Grill’d, is $18-$20 (about)

      May sound like a bit of a price difference, but I’m pretty sure most people can agree that you feel like you’re getting more than double the quality and taste.

  • Make the drinks unlimited or at least free second refill and give us root beer. and before some one says thats a US drink, well so too is pepsi and coke !

    • Please, not the root beer. No wonder it’s name alludes to genital fluids after coitus, because it’s even worse.

      • Australians have not had root beer unless they have been to USA , so to say you don’t like it generally comes from ignorance !

        • I used to drink it all the time as a kid, but we only ever called it Sarsaparilla, not root beer

  • No mention of the design your own burger thing that’s being rolled out throughout the Australia. Although they look fancy, apparently the taste isn’t quite there, just the same old McDonald’s taste. For me personally though, beer would definitely have to be an option. I think the biggest issue with liquor licensing is that it would have to be served by an 18 year old and there are some stores where I swear everyone behind the counter looks underaged.

    As with Darren, I only ever go to McDonald’s as a last resort rather than choice. On one of my recent trips I was coming back from the bush and my original plan was to stop at a pub not he way home. But we got out much later than expected and not even the take away shops were open at the nearest town (just after 9pm on a Sunday night). It wasn’t until we arrived at the fringes of Melbourne after midnight that we got to our first 24 hour food joint, a McDonalds. Burger was okay, but while my chips initially seemed satisfactorily warm, they turned out to be horribly stale. How long had they been sitting in the warmer? I would much rather wait while they cook fresh food than to be dished up crap like this. This only served to remind me as to why I don’t like McDonald’s.

    • At least in Tas, you can serve alcohol underage. Not sure by how much, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.

    • I tried the create your burger on Sunday and it was okay. It was $14 for a large meal. There’s just a lack of variety to even bother trying it. The angus beef patty is the only option. No chicken or other types of patties.

  • The biggest issue with Maccas is the service. I’ve been to some stores where I had to wait 15 min for my food or longer. And this is when it’s not a busy time of the day. Others I’ve had it in less than 5 min. The biggest issue with serving alcohol, apart from the law, is, as another member mentioned, is that 99% of the time the stores are staffed by people under 18. Unless they change the law and allow people under 18 serve alcohol then it will never happen. But given how a big a problem alcohol is then this may be a bad move.

  • Make the toilets cubicles larger and keep them clean! You used to be able to rely on Maccas for a good value meal and a clean dunny.

  • the new trend to having a ‘pick up’ counter is annoying. I refuse to accept a drink that has been sitting there longer than I’ve been waiting for my food, and I even had one staff member frown when I wouldn’t accept the half melted soft serve that had been sitting there about the same time.
    It’s not a mystery really, good service is not that hard to do. Focusing on the speed of delivery at the expense of other things is just not going to work. Grill’d and BurgerMeister aren’t the fastest, but they make up for it with service and quality.

  • I haven’t eaten at Maccas since February now. Before that I could hardly stop myself from going there.

    It’s just gotten SO EXPENSIVE! I have an HJ’s across the road from me, a Dominos down the road, and a KFC a little while away. They all give far and away better value for money, and for the most part taste better.

    I think the only way I’d start eating there again was if they brought back the McDouble for $2. Those were some good times.

    • I have an HJ’s across the road from me
      That’s er, “handy”. LOL

  • Macca’s need to focus on staff discipline, I remember when it was a good thing to have a tenure at McDonalds on your resume, these days, I wouldn’t touch a ex employee with a 10 ft pole.
    I only ever see staff slacking off and ignoring customers, they’d rather giggle amongst themselves than get the order out the window while its fresh. Once they fix this up, the quality of service will improve as the staff are actually doing their job.

  • A CLEAN TOILET is important, and a bit larger and not an after thought of design. McDonalds in Zurich Switzerland were ultra clean, light and spacious, almost could have eaten in there 🙂 and a few McDonalds in HK had ultra clean toilets as well.
    I sometimes think as a whole australian hygiene and toilets has gone down the drain, in HK everyone is so ultra clean now, SARs, Bird flu, they have lifted their game as a whole, when you come back from HK to Aust you can see how dirty we are here…
    Just a observation…

  • To open a new store you need to have $2-3 million in the bank, as well as the cost of opening and running the store.

  • All this talk about serving alcohol, thats the last thing I think McDonalds needs. I work at a McDonalds and I know that service isn’t good sometimes and as someone who actually works hard it annoys me. But even in situations where mistakes happen, customers go out of their way to be rude and make a big problem out of it out of the idea of it being McDonalds. A customer decided that because they were asked to wait a moment (literally a minute) for fresh fries (instead of soggy fries) and they screamed at the crew saying that they would it disgusting to have to wait for fries demanded to speak to the manager. Imagine this with the influence of alcohol.

  • Angus,

    You say that McDonald’s Australia is “more generous” with its pay than its US parent.

    It’s NOT generosity to pay people to come to work. It’s fee for service.

    The level of pay in Australia is historically good because of the old ‘basic wage’ system used up until the eras of Paul Keating and John Howard.

    The USA is only just learning (through the Walmart employees’ campaign) what social and economic benefits come from paying low income workers above the (traditionally) PITIFULLY LOW USA minimum wages.

    People who go to work also pay tax. Paying tax on a higher income provides more revenue to the government to fund the genuinely needier members of the populace.

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