Furious franchisees slam McDonald's for costly demands and 'wasteful' changes

McDonald's corporate is in hot water with franchisees who believe "the partnership is dead," according to a new survey. 

"We are doing so much, so fast and we aren’t doing any of it properly," one franchisee wrote in response to a survey by Nomura analyst Mark Kalinowski. "Combine that with our staffing problems and we might be close to breaking McDonald's."

Franchisees' complaints in the survey released Tuesday fall in two general categories: concerns regarding costly and complex changes and McDonald's corporate executives ignoring franchisees' concerns. 

McDonald's has made a major push over the last two years to modernize the chain. However, changes such as adding kiosks, remodeling locations, and adding more gourmet options such as espresso-based McCafe drinks to the menu add complexities and cost franchisees money.

"Concerned that many good Owner/Operators are being forced out due to the cost of Vision 2020," one franchisee said, referring to an inactive to improve McDonald's brand positioning. "There is a rush to get out, more and more stores are up for sale. Sad to see McDonald’s becoming something entirely different than founder Ray Kroc’s vision."

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"Every week there is a new initiative for the managers to focus on," said another. "They need to slow the initiatives down and have less of them, as even our long-term employees are now quitting ... McDonald’s Corporation is thinking short term, not long term."

"Operational complexity is slowing service and will soon begin to hurt same-store sales," said a third. 

Some of the franchisees surveyed said that while they thought McDonald's initiatives to improve business were overall positive, their relationships with corporate were deteriorating.

"Our relationship with Corporate is the worst I’ve seen in my decades as an Operator," a franchisee said. 

"The partnership is dead, as franchisees we are essentially employees with a lot of debt," said a different franchisee. 

Kalinowski interviewed 27 franchisees with 241 stores for the survey. While franchisees on average had a more positive outlook on the next six months of business compared to a survey conducted three months ago, the average estimation of franchisees' relationship with corporate had gotten worse. 

McDonald's did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment. In the survey, Kalinowski notes that the comments may not be representative of the US franchisee base as a whole. 

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Inside the fanciest McDonald's location in America
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Inside the fanciest McDonald's location in America

Located in the small seaside town of Freeport, Maine, this McDonald's was first the historic Gore House. William Gore, a prominent Freeport merchant, built the mansion in 1850.

Public Domain

Source: The New York Times and The Freeport Historical Society

The building was converted into Freeport's only McDonald's in 1984.

NNECAPA Photo Library/Flickr

The town of Freeport has strict building design codes, and McDonald's wanted to build a location in a residential zone.

(Instagram)

Initially, Freeport's 6,200 residents were pretty evenly divided about the McDonald's construction.

Imgur user therealrawcookiedough

But McDonald's was eventually granted a permit to remodel the Gore House. Freeport allowed its construction, but only if the restaurant retained the town's aesthetic.

Imgur user therealrawcookiedough

''What we are doing there is something we probably have never done before in terms of design and the amount of time and effort involved," said Stephen Leroy, manager of McDonalds' media relations, in 1984. ''We are willing to spend the money to make it compatible with the area, the history, the community and the people who live there.''

Imgur user therealrawcookiedough

Source: The New York Times

Inside, it looks like a McDonald's but still retains that classic New England style.

Imgur user therealrawcookiedough

It serves typical menu favorites, like Big Macs and McFlurries ...

(Instagram)

... as well as a local favorite: lobster rolls for $8.99.

(Instagram)

The corporation built a drive-thru on the building's side, too.

​​​​​It's surrounded by L.L. Bean's headquarters, an outlet mall, and luxury stores like Polo Ralph Lauren and Burberry.

Imgur user therealrawcookiedough

It's not the only arch-less McDonald's in the US. Colonial-style locations have also been built in New Hyde Park, New York, and Independence, Ohio.

Sources: Curbed and Flickr

Chung Chu/Flickr

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