When Ray Kroc franchised the first McDonald's restaurant in Des Plaines, Ill., on April 15, 1955, it wasn't just the opening of a restaurant; it was the birth of a franchise system, one of the most valuable American retail brands, and an international fast food empire.
These quotes from arguably the most successful fast-food retailer reveal what Kroc was thinking and learning about the business as he was building the McDonald's chain in the U.S. and ultimately around the world. Both restaurant and retail leaders would be well-advised to listen to his wisdom.
“I like to get people fired up, fill them with zeal for McDonald’s, and watch the results in their work.”
"When I saw [Maurice and Richard McDonald's restaurant in San Bernardino, Calif.] working that day in 1954, I felt like some latter-day Newton who’d just had an Idaho potato caromed off his skull. That night in my motel room, I did a lot of heavy thinking about what I’d seen during the day. Visions of McDonald’s restaurants dotting crossroads all over the country paraded through my brain."
"McDonald's is a people business, and that smile on that counter girl's face when she takes your order is a vital part of our image.""
"I didn’t invent the hamburger. I just took it more seriously than anyone else."
"Perfection is very difficult to achieve, and perfection was what I wanted in McDonald's. Everything else was secondary for me.""
“Look after the customers and the business will take care of itself.”
"The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it."
""If you work just for money, you'll never make it, but if you love what you're doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours."
"It's easy to have principles when you're rich. The important thing is to have principles when you're poor."
“Take calculated risks. Act boldly and thoughtfully. Be an agile company.”"
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