3 Ways McDonald’s Wants to Win Back America’s Love

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It isn’t breaking news that McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) isn’t doing so well. Even for those who aren’t privy to the company’s earnings reports,  it’s not hard to recognize that while McDonald’s drive-thru lines used to snake across parking lots and sometimes even out into traffic, customers now have more than a handful of parking spots to choose from, and drive-thru wait times have gone down considerably. That may be good news for consumers, but it’s not so ideal for McDonald’s, the chain that once ran the fast food game, and now is falling behind the likes of Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) and even Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX).

In the past, McDonald’s executives have been quick to refute any kind of problem, justifying declines in same-store sales and company earnings; however, just recently, a number of the chain’s leading men have opened up about McDonald’s current struggles, and have offered plans on how they plan on changing them. According to Burger Business, Chief Operating Officer Tim Fenton said to analysts in mid-January that McDonald’s had “overcomplicated” its menu in 2013 by “adding too many new products, too fast.” McDonald’s menu has increased in size 75 percent between 2004 and 2014, and the current menu has 121 permanent items, not even taking into account the seasonal limited-time-offerings the chain has been known to push forward.

The problem with expanding McDonald’s menu so considerably is that the chain’s execution — speed and quality — has since suffered from the overload of menu items, and franchisees have also become frustrated. Back in December when McDonald’s pulled its fall “Mighty Wings” from the menu, operators complained about the excess inventory they had left over from the poultry push, and we all know that intra-company dissatisfaction is never a jumping off point for sales.

But McDonald’s isn’t giving up; it’s just getting smarter. CEO Don Thompson shared some 2014 strategies earlier this month that he hopes McDonald’s can execute over the new year, and they focus on three areas: customization of products, the employment of social media to advertise said products, and an increase in kitchen investment to make sure said products get efficiently produced. It’s still unclear whether these new focal points will pay off in the long run, but thus far, Thompson is sticking to his guns. Here’s how.

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