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After what seems like eons of customer complaints regarding an early breakfast cutoff time, McDonald's has finally assented to serving breakfast all day. The shift is seen as a response to declining sales and increased competition from the likes of Starbucks and Taco Bell.
But a peek inside the move reveals a few more details that can provide some valuable lessons to entrepreneurs and small business owners:
Put Your Best Food Forward
Some, including myself, have maintained that breakfast was the best thing on the McDonald's menu. The numbers bear this out. According to Fortune, McDonald's gets almost 20 percent of total morning meal sales. So why put time constraints on your best products?
Every now and then, exclusivity can be an asset, driving customer demand. (See seasonal offerings like the McRib or Shamrock Shake.) But when you've got one product, or in this case a menu, that so clearly dominates the competition, you don't need to worry about finding new customers -- you just need the ones you have coming back more often.
The Hungry Customer Is Almost Always Right
Not only have customers been clamoring for McDonald's breakfast all day, they've been driving more menu flexibility across the board. We live in an age of freelancers, independent contractors, and telecommuting employees, meaning the work day has extended its hours. Employers have to be flexible and the service industry must be as well -- not everyone is working 9-to-5 anymore.
You Can't Feed Everyone All the Time
I'll be the first to admit I was disheartened to learn I live in a McMuffin Area -- the Biscuit is a clearly superior option. But by limited all-day breakfast to half the menu, McDonald's created its menu on its own terms, balancing customer demand for breakfast with the necessity to limit options in order to conserve customer service times.
Not everyone will be thrilled with all of your businesses decisions. But you know your marketing plan and your company's resources better than anyone, so it's up to you to do what's best.
And if you're planning on rolling out a new product or feature, you may want to discuss it with an experienced marketing and advertising attorney first.
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