McDonald's Franchisees Demand a New Chicken Sandwich to Compete with Chick-fil-A
Of the approximately 14,000 McDonald’s locations operating in the U.S., over 13,000 of them are franchises, according to QSR Magazine. Last year, those franchises took a major step towards having more influence on a national level by forming the National Owners Association (NOA) — “an independent, self-funded advocacy group of ‘owners-serving-owners.’” The NOA has already claimed victory on a number of issues, like getting more flexibility on value menu items. But according to a letter obtained by MSNBC, the group has other plans as well — including convincing MickeyD’s to create a chicken sandwich that can rival Chick-fil-A. Oh, and ditch the international menu!
In the letter, signed by the NOA Board, the group takes a swipe at one of McDonald’s latest pet projects before moving on to their Chick-fil-A request. “They may be favorites abroad, but they are not our customers’ favorites,” the letter states. “A favorite, that our customers want, is a chicken sandwich. Unfortunately, they have to go to Chick Fil A for it.”
Chick-fil-A has been the talk of the fast food industry after a Nation’s Restaurant News analysis pegged them as having leapt to third place in overall domestic sales last year, despite operating about one-sixth the number of locations McDonald’s has (and infamously being closed on Sundays). Since then, Business Insider reportedly found a leaked document that McDonald’s would (probably uncoincidentally) be releasing two new “Spicy BBQ” chicken items later this year. But even if that’s the case, the NOA apparently wants corporate to try harder.
“Chick Fil A’s results demonstrate the power of chicken. Yes, we have great Chicken Mcnuggets and our McChicken is a very good product. But we do not compete in the premium chicken sandwich category, either grilled or crispy,” the letter states. “A Chicken Sandwich at McDonald’s should be our top priority. JFK called for a man on the moon, our call should be a category leading chicken sandwich. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We didn’t invent the drive thru, we perfected it. Chick Fil A invented the Chicken Sandwich, but we can do one better.”
How? Oh, the NOA is ready with specifics. “Our Southern Style Chicken sandwich was very close to category leading. It needs some tweaks,” the letter continues. “We need to serve it in a foil bag and we need to butter the bun.” The letter then concludes by once again touching on that aforementioned value menu victory: “Food is still the driver in our business. Food that is irresistible and fast. Food that we don’t have to discount. We get the food right, and the guests counts will follow.”
So the NOA has spoken; now the question is whether corporate will listen. Honestly, the whole thing seems like a bit of a double-edged sword for the top brass: Since the NOA is a relatively new entity, McDonald’s probably doesn’t want to completely give in and have a mutiny on their hands. But on the other hand, seriously, who doesn’t love a good chicken sandwich?