McDonald’s Bahrain is bringing the future of quick service restaurants to its customers. Have the full freedom of choice with the latest in technology. We think that sounds delicious!
This cover story is brought to you by our friends at McDonald’s Bahrain. Watch this space for full coverage on the launch of Create Your Taste – a new and unique experience to be introduced to the Exhibition Road Branch in December. #CYTBAHRAIN #McDonaldsBahrain
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers, and tell us who you are and what you do?
I’m Abdulla Adel Fakhro, director of Fakhro Restaurants Co., the sole franchisee of McDonald’s in Bahrain. The chairman of the company is my father, Adel Fakhro, and he is also the founder of McDonald’s Bahrain, having acquired the franchise 21 years ago. To hold the position I am currently in, I had to undergo restaurant training covering every aspect of the McDonald’s system: from food preparation to customer service to restaurant development and more. It wasn’t easy, but it’s a requirement that every employee working in McDonald’s has to complete – no matter what your specific job may be. Everyone must understand the system, and that’s how we are all synchronized; locally and around the world.
McDonald’s Bahrain, as a franchise of McDonald’s, is locally owned and locally operated by our company. Our vision, however, is in line with the direction of McDonald’s global in terms of investment in technology and making the brand more relevant to the younger generation. We aim for every McDonald’s visit to be customer-friendly, as it has always been—but we want to make it even more interactive. McDonald’s Arabia (GCC) has invested heavily in technology and social media – and that includes Bahrain.
What is Create Your Taste, and why are you bringing it to Bahrain?
Create Your Taste is a platform that provides customers with the experience of ordering from a tablet-like kiosk, from which they can customize everything from choice of bun and cheese to original and new toppings and sauces. This allows them to build their own perfect burger, or try our new signature burgers. Everything is made fresh and on the spot, with very high-quality ingredients.
It’s a different kind of McDonald’s; almost like your gourmet-burger joints, but with the innovation of production and experience that only we provide. And with Create Your Taste, even the way you receive your food is innovated; you receive complete table service, for the first time at McDonald’s. After ordering through the kiosk, you pick up a GPS device, that we call a ‘table locator’, and grab a seat anywhere around the restaurant. Our servers detect your location and bring you everything to your table.
Will I be able to order things that are not on the menu?
Yes, you can customize existing burgers or come up with something completely new using the available ingredients. But Create Your Taste ingredients cannot mix with regular McDonald’s menu items.
SOME OF MCDONALD’S BRANCHES WITH CREATE YOUR TASTE IN THE NEAR FUTURE WILL INCLUDE A FULL SHOWCASE OF THE BURGER PREPARATION AREA – YOU’LL BE ABLE TO ACTUALLY SEE THE ENTIRE PROCESS…
Why is this exciting for McDonald’s?
Everything about Create Your Taste is exciting: the new and classic favorite toppings, the endless combinations, and a fully-customized experience, complete with table service (a first at McDonald’s!) Create Your Taste customers are in for a completely different experience. They will become their very own burger innovators. Some of McDonald’s branches with Create Your Taste in the near future will include a full showcase of the burger preparation area – you’ll be able to actually see the entire process, even how the lettuce is hand-picked. It’s actually very enjoyable.
When is Create Your Taste launching?
CYT launched at the Exhibition Road branch on December 11th 2015. It will launch in other branches during the following few months. And almost every new branch of McDonald’s to open in the future will include CYT as well.
Do you think the ordering process is moving toward becoming completely digital over time?
Maybe not fully but to a large extent, yes. The service will remain as personal as McDonald’s has always been. We’re trying to eliminate the inconvenience of waiting in line, ordering what you want, asking for different things, and being told what your options are. Instead, it’s already clear—so you can select it yourself. You’ll be assisted in doing so, and then an actual McDonald’s service crew will deliver it to you, so you’ll still get the same experience.
But we will always maintain the human aspect of the experience. That’s one of the key pillars of our business: the friendly smile, the warm greeting, and overall exceptional service. With Create Your Taste, there’ll be less human involvement at the order stage but, after you place the order, they’ll take very good care of you.
It also helps with preventing errors. You know, a lot of times, you order at the counter and pick up your food, and they’ve made a mistake. They’ve added cheese when you didn’t ask for cheese.
This is particularly important for me, because I always order my burgers plain, so I have a really tough time in other places. McDonald’s, so far, has been excellent, and I enjoy that little sticker that says ‘made for you’. That makes me feel like less of a burden on society.
Running a franchise of a big food chain must be very challenging and pressure-filled. What challenges have you faced during this journey so far?
As a leader of the industry, we find ourselves constantly challenged to stay current, to be ahead of the market and global developments in the industry. McDonald’s expects franchisees to be involved and on top of all day-to-day details.
Another point I wanted to bring up is that people who were our age 20 years ago were born with a completely different set of tools for interacting with brands. Back then, you had, what? The phone? That was pretty much it—and the branch itself, of course. Today, you’re born directly into Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and the Internet. Has that proved to be a challenge for McDonald’s? Did it add pressure to cater to this generation of people with new tools?
In the region, we’re ahead of the game – compared to our competitors. But worldwide, McDonald’s may have lost attractiveness to Generation Z, who are currently 19 years of age and younger. For teenagers today, McDonald’s is less relevant than it used to be when we ourselves were teenagers. They just don’t feel a connection with the brand.
Has McDonald’s figured out why?
Yes, and that’s why they’re investing so much in technology. They want to be more relevant and more attractive to that generation.
…STAY AHEAD BY ALWAYS STRIVING TO IMPROVE YOUR VERY OWN WAY OF DOING THINGS.
What are some of the ways McDonald’s is run that could be mimicked in a small startup or business?
That’s a very good question. I believe that startups or small businesses can learn a lot from the McDonald’s success story, especially in creating streamlined systems and processes that ensure consistency and that can be easily duplicated. A great idea can fail if there is no strong system behind it. McDonald’s has always believed in innovation, and this is a reason why we are still in business today. Our advice would be to stay ahead by always striving to improve your very own way of doing things.
Are there any ideas that originated in Bahrain that McDonald’s has implemented?
Yes. In 2014, we developed a sandwich called The Little French. Customers in Bahrain had enjoyed The French, which was introduced a year before that as a limited-time item on the menu. There was a high demand to bring it back. We developed a new product with similar features that customers enjoyed, but with our own twist. The Little French was a hit, and we sold out before the promotion period ended. Customers appreciated the ‘exclusively in Bahrain’ tag that went along with it. That was the best part. And to our delight, other countries have planned to launch it in their own markets as well.
People can think that working at a restaurant is a dead end, career-wise. Can you tell us about the unique career opportunities at McDonald’s?
Think about this for a second: 70% of the board of McDonald’s in the U.S. is made up of executives who started as crew in the restaurants once upon a time, and hold high positions today. In Bahrain, we have many examples of both expats and Bahrainis who have been with us from the very start—who started as young crew and are now heading departments in the head office. McDonald’s all around the world offers state-of-the-art training programs that lead to rapid career development, so it’s definitely not a dead end job.
Thank you so much for this opportunity.