The story of the McDonald’s franchise business began in 1954 when Ray Kroc, a struggling milkshake machine salesman, visited a small fast-food restaurant in San Bernardino, California, operated by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald. Kroc was amazed by the efficiency of their operation, which used an assembly-line system to prepare food quickly and cheaply.
Kroc convinced the brothers to let him franchise their concept and expand the business. He opened the first McDonald’s franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois, in 1955. Kroc’s vision was to build a nationwide chain of standardized, efficient, and profitable fast-food restaurants. He offered a franchise package that included a training program, equipment, and a manual that detailed every aspect of running a McDonald’s restaurant.
The franchise business took off, and by 1960, there were over 200 McDonald’s restaurants across the United States. The company went public in 1965, and Kroc continued to expand the chain both domestically and internationally.
One key to McDonald’s success was its focus on consistency and standardization. Every restaurant served the same menu, prepared the same way, with the same quality ingredients. This approach ensured that customers could expect a consistent experience no matter where they visited a McDonald’s.
Another key to McDonald’s success was its focus on innovation and customer experience. The company pioneered drive-through service, introduced the iconic Big Mac sandwich, and created a family-friendly atmosphere with its Play Place areas.
McDonald’s continued to expand its franchise business globally, with locations in over 100 countries by the early 21st century. The company also faced challenges, including criticism for its impact on public health and the environment, as well as competition from other fast-food chains.
Today, McDonald’s remains one of the most recognized and successful franchise businesses in the world, with over 38,000 locations worldwide. The company continues to innovate with menu items like plant-based burgers, mobile ordering, and delivery options. Despite its challenges, McDonald’s franchise business remains an example of how a simple concept, executed with consistency and innovation, can transform into a global powerhouse.