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QSR Interview

One on One with Jim Skinner
The CEO of McDonald’s sat down with QSR to discuss the five principals guiding his industry-leading company.
McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner incorporates five key principals in leading his company.

Since taking over the burger giant, which now has 32,000 restaurants worldwide, CEO Jim Skinner has restructured McDonald’s, redesigned the restaurants, and revolutionized the menu. Aside from the addition of premium coffee offerings, McDonald’s menu also features healthier choices such as Fruit & Walnut Salads and Chicken Wraps. Skinner also earns high marks for offering better value and improved marketing.

His winning strategy, christened the Plan to Win, focused all team members’ attention on improving service, food, and ambience and not necessarily on opening new stores.

Aside from reducing energy output and working with suppliers to establish healthier environmental operations, Skinner puts a lot of muscle behind talent management and leadership development. High-potential employees are put through a leadership institute, and diversity is an important value at the company. Those are just some of the reasons Skinner was not only the cover subject of QSR’s May 2010 issue, but also why he was selected as one of the industry’s 10 Most Innovative People.

Hear from Skinner himself what propels his company to the top of the segment.

Where did the idea for the Plan to Win come from?

The advent of the Plan to Win was in the spring of 2003 when we were in at the start of a revitalization.

Yes, our traffic increases, but a lot of it was from customers who had always gone to McDonald’s.”

There were a number of tenets to the revitalization, the most important one was focusing on the things that were important for our brand and the restaurant business for 40 plus years before we had this little blip in performance, and that is to our customers and the restaurants.

So the Plan to Win was an aspirational plan to get our system focused on what was important both to our customers and for us as an organization. That was the operating plan, so that Plan to Win served us well.

Has anything about the Plan changed since then?

When you look at the tenets of the Plan to Win, the five P’s, I always like to say it’s not profound in itself but the alignment around people, products and place, the opportunity to strategize through those five things is infinite, the continuum of trying to do a better job for your customers.

So nothing has changed except for the fact that we try to get better at what we do in each of those strategies around the Plan to Win. And in every market, in every segment, in every country around the world. If you were me, you’d be delighted to know that every team has its own Plan to Win, even the restaurant solutions group.

So nothing has changed. The format has not changed, and all our planning around the Plan to Win remains the same. This is our vehicle for strategizing and trying to give our customers a better experience at the front counter or the drive through, which I always like to say is the moment of truth. It is the only place where we could make a difference.

We spend millions of dollars on marketing, but when I screw up your order at the front counter or the drive-thru, it’s all lost, because you don’t care how good our last commercial was.

What improvements are happening at the company moving forward?

First, if you look at people. The ability of the crew and the managers in our restaurants to deliver this better experience at the front counter and drive-thru through the enhancement of technology and the point of sale in particular, the cash registers, is very, very important.

And training and educating our people, we’re ramping up our efforts around that.

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