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Behind the Golden Arches: A Deep Dive into the McDonalds Business Model and Franchising System

McDonalds is a household name, known worldwide for its fast-food restaurants serving burgers, fries, and shakes. The brand’s popularity comes from its ability to provide quality food and fast service, offering customers a convenient and affordable way to grab a meal on the go.

However, McDonalds is not just known for its food. The business model and franchising system that the company has developed over the years have become a benchmark for other businesses looking to emulate success.

In this article, we will take a deep dive into the McDonalds business model and franchising system. We will explore the history of the company, its mission statement, and how the company makes money.

We will also discuss the different types of franchising, the benefits of franchising, and McDonalds’ relationship with its franchisees.

McDonalds Business Model:

The history of McDonalds dates back to 1940 when two brothers, Richard and Maurice McDonald, opened a drive-in restaurant in San Bernardino, California.

The restaurant offered a limited menu of burgers, fries, and drinks, but its service was fast and efficient. It was not until the 1950s that the business began to expand its operations, opening franchises across the United States.

However, it was not until Ray Kroc, who was a milkshake machine salesman, became involved with the company that the business really took off. Kroc purchased the company in 1961 and introduced the Speedee Service System, a revolutionary way of serving customers quickly and efficiently.

McDonalds’ mission statement is to be customers’ favorite place and their way to eat. The company focuses on providing quality food, fast service, and a pleasant dining experience to its customers.

McDonalds makes money through its franchising system, which consists of three types: Developmental License, Conventional Franchising, and Affiliates. The company earns revenue through the licensing of its trademarks and intellectual property, the lease of its properties, and the sale of equipment and supplies to its franchisees.

The different revenue streams help to diversify the business and maintain profitability.

The McDonalds Business Model Canvas is a visual representation of the company’s business model.

It includes customer segments, value proposition, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partners, cost structure, and competitors. It provides an in-depth analysis of the business, its operations, and its unique selling points.

McDonalds SWOT Analysis examines the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It highlights the areas where the company excels and the challenges it faces.

It helps the business to identify areas for improvement and develop a strategy to overcome obstacles.

McDonalds Franchising Model:

McDonalds’ franchising system is one of the key reasons for the brand’s success.

The company has over 39,000 locations in more than 100 countries, with nearly 93% of its restaurants being operated by franchisees.

The three types of franchising offered by McDonalds are Developmental License, Conventional Franchising, and Affiliates.

A Developmental License allows a franchisee to open and operate a restaurant in a specific country, while Conventional Franchising involves the franchisee leasing or purchasing a restaurant from McDonalds. Affiliates are used to operate franchised restaurants in markets where McDonalds does not have a direct presence.

The benefits of franchising include a stable revenue stream, predictable revenue, and low operational costs. Franchising enables the company to leverage the expertise of its franchisees while maintaining control over the brand’s quality and consistency.

McDonalds has a close relationship with its franchisees, offering support through innovative technology, training, and marketing. However, the relationship can be strained when there are disagreements over lease terms or royalties.

The company has mechanisms in place to address franchisee concerns and ensure that the business operates smoothly.


McDonalds is a global brand with a business model and franchising system that has become a benchmark for others to follow.

The company’s focus on quality food, fast service, and a pleasant dining experience has made it a favorite among customers worldwide. McDonalds’ franchising system, which includes Developmental License, Conventional Franchising, and Affiliates, has allowed the company to expand its business while maintaining control over its brand.

The close relationship between McDonalds and its franchisees ensures that the business runs smoothly and continues to grow. McDonalds is a brand without borders, and its success has been a result of its ability to transform itself to meet the ever-changing needs of its customers.

In this expansion, we will explore the company’s marketing strategies, growth strategies, and revenue streams. McDonalds Marketing Strategies:

The enhancement of customer experience has always been a priority for McDonalds.

The company focuses on the four Ps of marketing- people, products, price, place, and promotion, to ensure a consistent and positive customer experience. The aim is to create a unique and memorable experience for its customers that keeps them coming back for more.

One of McDonalds’ marketing tactics is to provide top-notch customer service, which includes prompt and friendly service, maintaining clean and hygienic restaurants, offering a variety of healthy food options, and excellent promotional offers. These strategies are aimed at both retaining existing customers and attracting new ones.

Another aspect of McDonalds’ marketing strategy is the integration of technology, particularly on its digital platforms. The company has invested in developing apps that provide seamless ordering, payment, and delivery services through mobile devices.

They have also introduced the Experience of the Future (EOTF) initiative, which features automated kiosks, table service, and digital menu boards, creating an enhanced customer experience. McDonalds Growth Strategies:

To continue attracting new customers and retain its existing ones, McDonalds applies several growth strategies.

These strategies include retaining current clients, regaining lost customers, and converting occasional customers into regular ones. The company also focuses on utilizing digital platforms to enhance its visibility through social media advertising, Google ads, and other digital marketing campaigns.

McDonalds also diversifies its product offerings to cater to changing consumer tastes and preferences. Recently, the company has introduced plant-based burgers on its menu to meet the demand for vegetarian and vegan options.

Acquiring other companies has been another key strategy for McDonalds. In recent years, the company has acquired several tech companies, including Dynamic Yield, to provide personalized customer experience through its digital channels.

Additionally, McDonalds aims to integrate services like home delivery and mobile payment options to its existing services. Revenue Streams:

There are different revenue streams that enable McDonalds to generate income.

The first is through royalties, where franchisees pay a percentage of their sales to the parent company. The royalties percentage is predetermined, and it falls within the range of 4% to 6% of the gross sales of each restaurant.

Another revenue stream is rent fees, where franchisees pay rent to lease the land and restaurant building. McDonalds offers both ground lease and building lease, with rental rates that vary depending on the market and location.

The third revenue stream is license fees, where franchisees pay a predetermined amount to use the McDonalds trademark and operating procedures. This fee is typically paid when securing franchise rights and is renewable annually.

In conclusion, McDonalds has developed a marketing strategy that focuses on enhancing customer experience, diversifying product offerings, and utilizing digital platforms. The company has also employed growth strategies focused on regaining lost customers, converting occasional customers, and retaining existing customers.

McDonalds has built different revenue streams, including royalties, rent fees, and license fees, which enable the company to maintain profitability and continue its expansion. McDonalds is a fast-food giant that has solidified its place in the market over the years.

However, there are several other major players in the fast-food industry that are in direct competition with McDonalds. In this expansion, we will examine McDonalds’ main competitors, their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

McDonalds’ Competitors:

Burger King is one of McDonalds’ main competitors. Burger King has a similar franchise model, focusing on international presence and a diverse menu.

The company offers different promotions, including the “Whopper Detour,” which encourages customers to download the application and get a discounted Whopper burger. Subway is another competitor of McDonalds.

Subway is privately-owned and operates on a franchise system. The company focuses on size, with over 40,000 locations worldwide, with the aim of offering healthy and diverse eating options.

Chipotle is another major competitor of McDonalds, albeit with a different fast-food model. Chipotle offers Mexican food options and has a unique business structure as it had no franchised locations as of 2019.

Its focus on diverse and healthy food options, as well as its commitment to ethically-sourced ingredients, sets it apart from other fast-food chains.

Yum Brands is a leading fast-food restaurant umbrella organization, owning well-known brands like KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut.

These brands focus on diverse menu offerings, franchising, and international presence. The focus is on brand recognition and unique culinary offerings that appeal to a wide range of customers.

Wendys is another notable competitor of McDonalds, with a focus on high quality and fresh ingredients. The company boasts a large market capitalization, and their stock shares have consistently outperformed McDonalds over the years.

With an American focus on fast food options, the company is uniquely positioned to cater to customers who have a nostalgia for “traditional” fast food offerings. Starbucks is one of McDonalds’ most prominent competitors, and albeit not in the fast-food segment, offers coffee drinks and various desserts.

The company focuses on high-quality coffee and creating a unique experience for customers. It has achieved international presence, with over 30,000 locations worldwide.

The focus on coffee-related products, premium prices, and creating an ambient atmosphere sets it apart from traditional fast-food chains.

McDonalds SWOT Analysis:


McDonalds is a leader in the fast food industry, with a vast network of suppliers, franchise operators, and customers worldwide.

The company has strong brand recognition and has effectively leveraged its brand to enhance customer loyalty. McDonalds is committed to a sustainable supply chain, ensuring quality and consistency in its products.

The company has a strong balance sheet, enabling it to invest in innovations like digital ordering and personalized customer experiences.

McDonald’s quick service and quick delivery options are another strength, ensuring that customers receive their orders promptly.

The company’s flexible pricing strategy, which provides customers with various options across different menu items, helps to enhance customer satisfaction. Weaknesses:

McDonalds’ delivery options have not always been up to par, and there have been several complaints about slow response times.

Also, customers are always demanding healthier food options which requires companies to be more innovative.


McDonalds has an opportunity actively to expand its brand into new markets such as India where it established a 200% growth rate in 2014.

The company can focus on developing more diverse menu options to cater to its customers, including the ongoing development of plant-based products. Also, consistently offering new and fresh products enhances customer loyalty.


One of the biggest threats facing McDonalds is increased competition within the fast food industry. Competitors are also leveraging technology to enhance the customer experience, and McDonalds must strive to keep up.

The economy and economic conditions will also play a critical role in McDonalds’ performances, with reduced disposable incomes affecting consumer choices.


In conclusion, McDonalds is operating in a dynamic industry where competition is fierce and customer preferences are continually changing.

The company must continue to develop its marketing and growth strategies, maintain its revenue streams and remain competitive. The SWOT analysis highlights McDonalds’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, enabling the company to remain proactive and stay ahead of the competition.

In conclusion, McDonalds’ business model and franchising system have contributed to its global success. The company’s focus on customer experience, marketing strategies, and growth opportunities have helped it maintain its stronghold in the fast-food industry.

By diversifying its menu offerings, utilizing digital platforms, and building strong relationships with franchisees, McDonalds continues to thrive in a competitive market. Understanding the importance of adapting to customer demands and embracing technological advancements are key takeaways from McDonalds’ success.

As the industry continues to evolve, McDonalds remains a benchmark for businesses seeking to achieve long-term profitability and customer satisfaction.

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