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Read me like a book by starting at the beginning

The Founder

Date - 19 June 2017/ Category - Volume 2
Volume 2

I’ll start off this post by giving you some background into my daily life.

By day I spend clients’ money in order to get results. While where I spend that money is often overlooked, the results that come from that spend are highly scrutinised and as such I’d like to say despite being a consultant I live in a high pressure sales environment.

Every week my results are reviewed for better or for worse; I live and die by my results.

By night I’m a father to a four year old. I pick her up from nursery, I give her tea, I even watch Paw Patrol and by 8pm I’m done with the day.

As a result of my dual life, I have a living room I spent a fortune kitting out that I don’t use because I’d rather lie on my bed and watch a film.

Last night’s film was “The Founder”, a film I’ve been meaning to watch for ages but somehow never quite found the time for.

It’s about “The Founder” of the McDonalds Corporation who as it turns out wasn’t actually the founder of McDonalds, but rather founded the company that franchised out the original McDonalds system.

Now some of the guys who work for me had already seen the film and used the following phrase to describe the main character Ray Krock; ruthless.

But on reflection having seen it I’ve come out with a totally different view point to my colleagues and I think it’s because of my journey to this point so far.

In a nutshell then (stop reading if you don’t like spoilers) Ray is an unsuccessful milk shake mixer salesman who has great pitch and a great work ethic that’s stuck in the wrong industry.

He comes across McDonalds, who had found a way to revolutionise the fast food industry and felt that if he could apply his work ethic and sales pitch to franchising the idea to others he would have better luck than with mixers.

The two McDonalds brothers that founded the first store were great at operations but had no desire to franchise out the idea, in fact they were dedicated to the original idea where as Ray decided to tweak the idea in order to make it scalable much to their dismay.

It all comes to a head when Rays newly founded McDonalds Corporation dwarfs the original burger joint and Ray buys out the brand name.

To me then, that seems like a pretty straight forward and great way to build a business. For a man with a good skill set, but no idea, he found someone else’s idea and upon working out that they didn’t know how to expand, did so successfully and eventually secured control over the entire business.

Sadly in the film at least Ray isn’t actually a very likeable fellow, after securing the brand name McDonalds he then drove the real founders out of business and never paid them the money they were owed; neither of which are very admirable things to do.

Nonetheless there are quite a few lessons to be learnt in the film that I think are worth listening to.

The person that comes up with an idea might not be the person who can turn it into a business – Undoubtedly Ray Krock made McDonalds what it is today, he drove the expansion of the brand forward but he didn’t do it alone. The store concept wasn’t his and neither was the revenue stream of owning the land.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – The idea of a burger restaurant wasn’t revolutionary, in fact it had been done to death but a simple change to improve the user experience made the McDonalds business model widely successful; speed.

Expanding your business throws up all new problems that you didn’t have before – Ray discovered that recruiting people with the right traits (i.e persistence) was more important than finding people with the money to start a store.

You might be in the wrong industry – Ray was just as good and persistent at selling milkshake mixers as he was franchises; it was the idea that made the difference.

Good ideas don’t make great businesses – As the film says “If you’re not making money hand over fist something is dreadfully wrong” and the way Ray set up the first franchises was a mistake. He later learnt he could earn more money by owning the stores at prime locations, and letting people own the right to operate the store (thus getting a higher return) rather than just franchising the system. Read our recent blog post on this here.

A brand is important – Ray felt that the name McDonalds somehow taped into the American dream. By owning the store and the brand he owned the two most important parts to the success of each

Read our next blog post “Don’t be afraid to work less“.