McDonald’s franchisees desperately beg for Chick-fil-A-like sandwich

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Photo: ingesche (iStock), David L. Ryan (The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

If the fast-food market was a game of Risk, Chick-fil-A would be swiftly marching across the map, planting its soldiers in territories from Alaska to Yakutsk. The chain recently became the third-largest restaurant company in America, behind only McDonald’s and Starbucks. The news hasn’t gone unnoticed by McDonald’s independent franchisees, who this week demand McD’s corporate introduce a chicken sandwich that can stand up to the Chick-fil-A onslaught.


CNBC obtained a copy of an email sent by the National Owners Association franchisee group to other owners, in which the franchisees practically beg the chain to introduce a “premium chicken sandwich” that could rival its competitor’s. While McDonald’s does currently offer its Classic Chicken Sandwich, it’s apparently not premium enough in the eyes of franchisees. The email states the chicken-sandwich demands in no uncertain terms:

A Chicken Sandwich at McDonald’s should be our top priority. JFK called for a man on the moon, our call should be a category leading chicken sandwich. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We didn’t invent the drive thru, we perfected it. Chick Fil A invented the Chicken Sandwich, but we can do one better.

You may recall McDonald’s Southern Style Chicken Sandwich (2005-2015), which was closer to the sandwich served at Chick-fil-A. The National Owners Association remembers it, too, and thinks that with a few updates, it could be the answer they’re searching for: “We need to serve it in a foil bag and we need to butter the bun, but the patty recipe was excellent.” The NOA calls on McDonald’s to introduce a revamped chicken sandwich in the South as a test market, then fast-track it to national locations. The group signs its letter “Your ‘reaching for the moon’ NOA Board.”

While McDonald’s remains the largest restaurant company in the country, its size also makes introducing new items a massive undertaking. For example, the chain hasn’t yet added a meatless burger to its menu, despite petitions calling on it to do so. As Chick-fil-A fans fuel that company’s surge, though, the Golden Arches can ignore the demands of customers—or franchisees—at its own potential peril.


Bitter Old Dude

The issue is that Chik=fil-a is not just a better chicken sandwich, it actually is a nice place to purchase said sandwich. McDonalds, by and large, is not a nice place to visit.

When I would rather order via a touchscreen at a McDonalds to avoid a surly or disenfranchised worker, the people at Chik-fil-a actually are pleasant to deal with. The “my pleasure” statement when serving a guest, while it could be trite, is not unwelcome. It denotes hospitality, which is the actual name of the industry. If I feel welcome and appreciated, then I will be more likely to return.

And this coming from someone diametrically opposed to the viewpoints on most social issues from the Cathy family that owns Chik-fil-a. They can support any religious organization they want, or support any political view they have personally. I can use my paycheck as I see fit, and I give them that same right. As long as the stores are welcoming and non-discriminatory, I will eat their tasty sandwiches and fries.

McDonalds needs to go cheap. That is their wheelhouse. Cheap, greasy burgers, hot fries, and fast service. They are losing on all points as of now. They are no longer cheap, the fries are a source of delays in fulfilling orders, and they are painfully slow, comparatively. They need to drop a lot of their items, focus on core, and go back to being a fast food restaurant, not a cafe bar, barista, and wannabe quality food joint. They have missed the mark on all of those items, and adding a good chicken sandwich will not reverse their fortunes.