At some point, everyone has wished that their favorite breakfast foods could be served all day. Maybe not everyone, but that is only because they’re not fans of crispy bacon, syrupy pancakes, and perfectly crafted, flavor-filled breakfast sandwiches. McDonald’s has begun entertaining this idea of 24-hour breakfast and has discovered many logistical issues.
A former McDonald’s restaurant owner and current restaurant franchisee consultant explains, “It’s been tried and failed repeatedly. It just makes the operation too complicated.” McDonald’s offers breakfast until 10:30 am on weekdays and 11:00 am on weekends. Their breakfast accounts for 25%of their sales, but dominates the fast-food breakfast market. Making these items available all day doesn’t seem that hard, right? Unfortunately it is just not that easy. As we discussed in class, capacity always comes into play. It is not about storage of the food, it is about grill capacity. Cooking meats and eggs require different temperatures on the grill. For breakfast, bacon and sausage is cooked ahead of time, and the grill is set to a higher temperature to cook the eggs until 10:30 or 11. The current grills do not have the capacity to accommodate this difference. The company would have to figure out a way to match the required capacity to the anticipated demand. Another strategic issue would be labor. Since the scrambled eggs need to be stirred constantly, it would be difficult to make them during peak lunch and dinner hours. Since 65% of customers come through the drive-thru, speed is of the utmost importance.
McDonald’s is also worried about losing profits as well. The breakfast sandwiches and meals are cheaper than those for lunch and dinner. If they are all offered at the same time, people may trade down to the cheaper products, hurting McDonald’s earnings. Good things can come from enacting this too. Most of the breakfast items are healthier than the greasy burgers and fries, giving customers lower calorie and more beneficial options.
One thing to take into consideration is how to estimate demand. Will people actually buy these items throughout the day, or is it just nice in theory? People tend to want what they can’t have, and once it is made available, it may not be as popular as originally expected.
There are discussions of meeting somewhere in the middle. One option is only serving the breakfast sandwiches and not worry about giving the scrambled eggs the attention they require. Another option would be to test demand by serving breakfast until noon.If the company needs to make major changes to grill capacity and labor, then they must know if profits will make up for those costs.
Is it about time McDonald’s serves breakfast all day? Based on demand and current statistics, would it be worth it and have the potential to succeed, or should they keep operations as they are?