How McDonalds Went From a Hamburger Shop to a Global Phenomenon

McDonalds is an excellent example of the potential of franchising. The well-known brand started out as a humble hamburger restaurant and eventually grew to become a global presence. Today, it’s considered one of the most successful and recognisable franchises in the world with a presence in over 119 countries. The company sells an average of 75 burgers every second, that’s how successful it is today.

At The Franchise Institute, we’re often asked how McDonalds became so successful and we always insist that it’s because of some very smart business decisions early on. Here we’ve listed some steps they took that contributed to their success:

They Standardized Their Menu

When you read the history of McDonalds, you notice that the original owners Maurice and Richard McDonalds focused a lot of time and effort on streamlining their cooking process. Their original menu contained hotdogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, potato chips, soft drinks, coffee, and apple pie. The offerings were diverse but the brothers still wanted to streamline and simplify the menu.

They removed hot dogs, potato chips and pie and replaced them with French fries and milkshakes. Fries and shakes were easier to make and consume, which made them very popular. In essence, they made a franchise-worthy menu even if it wasn’t their original intension to franchise their restaurant. The standardised system they established worked in their favour and contributed to their success.

Assembly Line Kitchen

In their endeavour to provide quick service, the McDonald brothers created an assembly line system that has now become a staple in many fast-food restaurants. At that time, it was rare and it allowed franchise branches to deliver a consistent product regardless of their location. This assembly line worked well with the altered menu as well because all recipes were simple to execute, easy to learn, and quick to assemble. This was a winning formula that works well even today, after over six decades of existence.

The Fast Food Formula

The original intention of the McDonald brothers was to create an establishment where people would buy their meals and leave. The entire restaurant was designed with that in mind so in the early days, heat would be turned down to prevent people from lingering; angled seating was installed that placed them close to the food, and the placement of the chairs discouraged socialisation. Because of this, more customers walked in and out of the doors, bringing in more business as well. Naturally, McDonald was more profitable than other restaurants because it simply got more business.


McDonalds also paid keen attention to establishing a solid brand. The first official store looked eye-catching and interesting. All the surfaces were shiny and clean, thanks to the ceramic red and while tiles. The counters were bright sheet metal and the establishment has glass with pulsing white, yellow, red, and green neon lights. The cherry on top was the famous Golden Arches that over the years have become synonymous with the McDonalds brand.


While these early steps helped McDonalds spread throughout the U.S, becoming a global force was a challenge. That’s where their greatest strength came in because McDonalds became adaptable by researching and altering their menu subtly for other countries and cultures. The combination of the four points mentioned above and adaptability helped McDonalds become the global phenomenon it is today.

If you want to know more about franchising or want some advice, feel free to get in touch with us at The Franchise Institute. You can call us on 1300 855 435 or fill in this contact us form and we’ll reply as soon as we can.

Thanks for reading,
The Franchise Institute Team
1300 855 435

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