Considered the world's largest restaurant chain serving 64 million customers daily, McDonald's is probably the most pervasive fast food chain on the globe. Founded by Ray Kroc in 1955, McDonald's worldwide generates some US$24 billion in annual revenue from more than 32,000 outlets (mostly franchisee and affiliate run restaurants). Famed for its superior supply chain management, ultra-efficient service quality, lightning speed kitchens, and franchise business model, its ubiquitous golden arches is probably the most instantly recognisable brand symbol in the world.
Here in Singapore, McDonald's serves some five million customers a month from over 115 restaurants islandwide. First established in 1979 with an outlet in Liat Towers (once the world's best performing McDonald's restaurant), the hamburger chain is encouraging members of the public to participate in its "Open Doors" global initiative. Since 2009, over 5,000 customers have participated in this programme, inclusive of a guided kitchen tour. I suppose this is a good initiative to combat some of the controversies surrounding the burger behemoth.
Thanks to the good folks at Omy.sg, I had the chance to tour McDonald's restaurant kitchen at its King Albert restaurant as part of the Open Doors initiative. It was quite an eye-opener and I encourage those interested to know more to sign up for this.
McDonald's staff called "ambassadors" help to lead its restaurant and kitchen tours.
To keep things moving quickly on the frontline, ordering and fulfillment functions are kept separate, with staff working in a duo.
The world famous fries (crispy on the outside and fluffy inside) are deep fried in 100% vegetable oil with zero cholesterol. I found out that the oil is sometimes kept for 2 or 3 days - not exactly the freshest perhaps?
Frozen breaded meat (fish or chicken?) taken out to be deep fried and served.
This sign tells the crew the intensity of the crowd, from low, medium, high to ultra-high. Its a good way to gear kitchen hands on the speed/volume of production needed.
With explicit instructions like these, you shouldn't have an excuse for layering your sandwich wrongly!
Beef patties and chicken patties are cooked on separate griddles (beef left and chicken right) to cater to customers' religious sensitivities. And yes, all McDonald outlets are Halal since 1982.
Our tour leader showing how a raw quarter pounder beef patty looks like before it is...
...placed on the griddle and cooked. This is precisely timed - about 18 seconds I believe.
These trays contain the key meat items that will be assembled into burgers and other items on the fly. By doing away with food warmers (like in the past), McDonald's can ensure that their burgers do not sit for too long.
Just in time "Made-For-You" sandwich assembly ensures that food stays hot and fresh when served to customers.
Orders are conveyed on a screen like this to notify crew members on what's needed.
Shelf lives of vegetables and toppings are monitored to ensure freshness.
Lots and lots of buns in the house.
A butt-freezing -19 deg Celcius is maintained in its huge freezer.
This helps ensures that beef, chicken, fish and other food items are kept hygienic.
The huge storage area in the restaurant contained all the different dry and freeze-dried items used. Yes, fast food restaurants do need prodigious supplies of disposables to keep the grill running.
My favourite part of the visit was the staff quarters. Here, off shift crew are munching away on their free meals of burgers, frieds, shakes and more (what else do you expect?).
The crew noticeboard provides a wealth of information on daily procedures, best practices, learning points and more.
The 3 Service Hallmarks of a McDonald's restaurant staff. Surprisingly simple but highly commonsensical.
Yes, incentives are the way to go in propelling a world class service culture.
The 10 cardinal rules of Customer Service Opportunity (CSO) in McDonald's.
I like this "Enthusiasm Calendar" - a good way to boost staff morale and bonding through events and activities that drive team spirit, learning, and recreation.
At the end of our tour, we were treated to chicken wings, nuggets, fries, Horlicks McFlurries and more...