When Ray Kroc bought McDonald’s, he knew he had stumbled onto something big. The brothers he’d purchased the restaurant from had a great formula, but no designs of expansion. Kroc dreamed of a chain of restaurants, scattered across the country. The burgers, he thought, would draw people in. All he needed was a beverage partner.
Kroc approached Coca-Cola, another enterprise looking to grow. After a fortuitous meeting with the head of Coke’s fountain division, an agreement was reached and the final piece to the McDonald’s puzzle fell into place. Today, customers have their choice of over 37,000 McDonald’s locations around the globe. And coke is still their beverage partner.
In fact, consumers visit the golden arches as much for the fountain drinks as for the food. That’s because of the meticulous was in which Coca-Cola products are served at McDonald’s. The chain’s method for supplying soft drinks has many convinced that you simply can’t find a better tasting Coke anywhere. The way they address this one menu item is impressive.
The magic starts long before the syrup even gets to the restaurant. In their agreement, McDonald’s specifies that Coca-Cola syrup be delivered in stainless steel tanks. Other customers receive their syrup in plastic bags. The steel helps protect the syrup from outside elements – light, temperature, and even air – that can affect the taste.
Once in the store, the syrup is mixed with water that’s been filtered many times over. This allows them to provide a consistent product despite the differences in water supplies around the world. These two steps help remove any variation from outside influences and ensures you get the same flavor experience every time.
What steps does your team take to prepare before the customer even arrives?
McDonald’s pre-chills their syrup and water separately. Most other restaurants flash-chill the mixture of syrup and water as its being dispensed. In a McDonald’s restaurant though, insulated tubes deliver water that’s stored at just above freezing; at a temperature optimized to retain the carbon dioxide that’s infused. Colder temps keep the CO² from escaping and makes your drink crisper and more refreshing.
What steps does your team take to deliver a superior customer experience?
A drink from McDonald’s seems to hold its flavor longer than one purchased from other restaurants. That’s because the syrup/water mixture is designed with melting ice taken into consideration. The last sip should deliver just as much flavor as the first. Of course, you may not notice this because you’ve slurped your McDonald’s Coke down faster. You can thank the straw for that; McDonald’s uses wider straws to allow as much flavor as possible to hit your taste buds. The goal is to provide that consistent experience long after you’ve left the building.
What steps does your team take to ensure satisfaction after the sale?
This may seem like a lot of steps to go through simply to deliver a beverage; but this attention to detail has paid off significantly for McDonald’s. They sell a lot – they remain Coca-Cola’s largest single customer; the only one with an entire division dedicated to them. And when people come in to purchase a soft drink, they usually buy something else too; fries, a pie, or even a burger. It strikes me that the effort is worth it.