Experience is everything

From a single restaurant in Geneva to 169 sites and counting, McDonald’s Switzerland has become, by-far, the most popular burger chain in the country – a distinction it will never tire of upholding

The first McDonald’s restaurant to open its doors in Switzerland did so in 1976. Since then, the brand’s portfolio in the country has grown to include 169 sites and – much like its tens of thousands of restaurants worldwide – every single one approaches each day with the same goal that founder Ray Kroc had when he created the business: to be known for providing food of consistently high quality, efficient methods of preparation for freshest menu items, local integration, and having a culture that puts the guest at the heart of every action.

“Today, together with our Swiss Franchisees, we are proud to serve over 290,000 guests daily, and are happy to have recently launched our home delivery service, McDelivery, across the country,” states McDonald’s Switzerland’s Managing Director, Jacques Mignault. “The Swiss have shown to be greatly appreciative of our services, with convenient ordering options designed to make their lives even easier, and with our crew’s daily aim being to create ‘wow moments’ for our guests you can see why more and more people are visiting our restaurants on a more regular basis.”

Jacques’ career path at McDonald’s has made for a fascinating journey, and has seen him dubbed by some as one of the company’s “most loyal burger chefs”. As he explains, his McDonald’s story has come a long way since joining as a restaurant employee at one of its restaurants in Montreal, Canada, several decades ago. “Since then,” he says, “I have dedicated more than 44 years of my life to this brand, and it is safe to say that to this day I’m truly lovin’ it!

“At McDonald’s, we say that we are not a hamburger business serving people, rather we are a people business serving hamburgers, and that is exactly what I have experienced during my career to date. Having had the wonderful opportunity to grow within this extraordinary company, I now have the privilege of being the Managing Director of the strongest restaurant brand in Switzerland with its many sites, 48 outstanding local Owner Operators, 7500 dedicated employees and excellent Swiss suppliers.”

Feel-good moments
For McDonald’s Switzerland, 2018 was the year in which it achieved some of its best results ever, with turnover growth rising 4.9 per cent to take it to 761 million Swiss francs, and customer growth coming in at 4.6 per cent, meaning that it served over 105 million guests over the 12 months. For Jacques, the recipe for this success is relatively simply. “The key to making delicious, feel-good moments easily available to everyone is delivering the best taste and the best possible experience for the best value,” he reveals. “Our guests are at the heart of what we do, so it is important that we are always listening to them as we strive to provide a welcoming, family-friendly environment, which is supported by digital tools.”

What Jacques refers to in the previous sentence is what McDonald’s calls the ‘Experience of the Future’. “We aim to interact with each guest in the way that he or she prefers,” he states. “The common denominator of this is that said interaction takes place with friendly and service-orientated employees who are well-trained according to our hospitality principles, and who are passionate about serving our guests.”

What McDonald’s Switzerland – like it global cousins – has found, is that by combining technology such as self-ordering kiosks and hospitality into its restaurants, it can focus even more on creating a convenient and enjoyable experience for all. “With our kiosks, our guests can place their order at their own pace, and during rush hour they are a fantastic solution when it comes to assisting the higher number of people wishing to order. Meanwhile, our complimentary table service enables our guests to choose a seat after ordering and wait in a relaxed atmosphere for their orders to be delivered directly to them. At present, we offer this service at more than 100 of our restaurants and we will continue to expand it to more locations in the months ahead.”

Holistic dining
When it comes to what menu items continue to bring guests back through the doors of McDonald’s Switzerland’s restaurants, its famous burgers such as the Big Mac or its Cheeseburger remain hugely popular, while more recent consumer demand for premium burgers are also driving sales. “We are very happy to now offer two premium burgers as part of our ‘Signature Line’ on our menu, which were created based on the results of comprehensive guest surveys and tastings,” Jacques continues. “Both burgers – The Classic and The Farmer – delight with an extra thick minced meat patty, locally sourced from Swiss farms, and we look forward to launching new burger creations as part of the Signature Line in the future. Meanwhile, we continue to offer our guests regular seasonal alternatives and value meals, as well as our various ‘McDeal’ promotional offers.”

Jacques is also aware, however, that as the most popular restaurant brand in Switzerland, the company also has a responsibility towards other things that are important to its guests, such as the environment. “As a large brand, we want to use our scale for good by minimising the impact we have on the environment, while maximising the possibility for positive change,” he enthuses. “For example, we are currently focused on developing more sustainable packaging solutions. Today, 90 per cent of our food packaging in Switzerland consists of renewable raw materials such as paper and cardboard, and as part of our ‘Scale for Good’ commitment, McDonald’s plans to source 100 per cent of its food packaging material from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025. One of the next steps to achieving this will be the adoption of a new ice cream cup for our McFlurry range in Switzerland, which will happen in October 2019, and will result in the reduction of 42 tonnes of plastic.”

Turning to what the future holds for the company, Jacques is at pains to stress that what will be important in the years to come is essentially the same as that which drives it today. “At its heart, our success is based on offering a holistic dining experience with delicious food, friendly staff, excellent service and good value for money,” he declares. “It is indeed the case that our guests are now expecting to receive an ever-more customised experience in which they can decide when, where and how to enjoy a good meal. Our task is to continuously work to anticipate these needs and find ways to adapt in order to keep our guests happy.

“We are keen on broadening and expanding our service concept within our restaurants with technological innovations and offers such as table service. We want to be there for our guests in an uncomplicated, fast and efficient manner, wherever they are, and that is why we will also remain focused on McDelivery in the future, also. We have successfully launched it in several Swiss cities in 2019, and more are set to follow. In all my time with McDonald’s, I have always found it to be a very exciting environment to be in, and I am convinced the future will be just as exciting, if not more!”