A Billion Dollar Mistake

McDonald’s Greatest Mistake:

If you are reading anything that I write – chances are high that you probably already know what I am about to say.  Studies have shown, year after year, that it takes 21 days for a repeated action to become a habit.  That’s 3 weeks.  In essence, if you do something consistently every day for 3 weeks – that action will become a habit in your life.  Therefore, the same thing works in the opposite direction.  If you have a habit, and you don’t do it for 21 days, the action is no longer a habitual pattern in your life.  For example, if you wake up every morning and go to the gym to work-out, then that it is a habit you have.  If you get sick, tired, or “too busy” to go to the gym, it will take 21 days to renounce that habit until not going to the gym is now the new norm.

That’s the preface to an enormous mistake that McDonald’s recently made.  I am confident that their PR and Marketing specialists have no idea what I am about to declare.  If they do, then shame on them, because they missed out on a colossal opportunity that single handedly would have returned them billions of dollars over the course of the next five years.

Are you ready for this?  In September of 2014, you may or may not remember that McDonald’s offered a free small cup of coffee to anyone and everyone that would show up at one of their locations before 10:31AM Monday-Sunday.  What a fantastic idea!  What an amazing way for a company like McDonald’s to invest their resources in giving back to their loyal customers and creating new ones.  Right? … Wrong!

 I don’t know this for a fact, but I would be extremely surprised if this wasn’t the case.  My assertion is this:  McDonald’s was offering this free cup of coffee to try and steal some market share from the major players like Starbuck’s, Heine Brothers, and other major or minor chains that have regular customers come into their store to buy a cup of coffee every – single –   morning.    The market for caffeine is gargantuan, and McDonald’s wants a bigger piece of the pie.

Here is the simple, incredibly simply solution:  If they would have just extended their offering one more week – they would have created a marketing strategy that would have returned them billions and billions of new customers served over the next five years (Chase’s opinion).

Yes – trust me.  I understand that giving away a cup of coffee for two straight weeks to anyone that wants one before 10:31 AM – could get quite expensive.  It is my guess that most McDonald’s franchises have the capital to back this marketing campaign for 7 additional days.   Just 7 more days of offering a free cup of coffee.  7.

Personally, I took the extra time over those two weeks to run through the McDonald’s drive-thru to grab a free cup of coffee.  I noticed that the lines were long and that everyone I overheard in the order line – ordered a free small cup of coffee.  I made it a point to go back and re-visit the same McDonald’s at about the same time over the next several weeks to see if the demand had stabilized.  Guess what – it hadn’t. 

Enough about McDonald’s already – you get the picture.  Now let’s bring this back to you.  Because – let’s face it – it’s always about you.

What habit do you need to create in your life?  What eating plan should you start and carry through for the next 21 days?  Should you start a new workout lifestyle that you can commit to for 3 weeks?  How about reading books that will make you better?  Should you start to read every day for the next 21 days so that you will be able to create new thought patterns in your life? 

We are a people that live according to habits and patterns that we have formed – some intentionally – and others unintentionally.  One of my dear friends wakes up before the crack of dawn every morning.  Everyday he wakes up – there is no sunlight to be found when he looks out the window.  He wakes up, throws some water on his face and starts his workout.  After a 3:45 alarm and about an hour workout, he finds his way to a coffee shop to which he goes every morning.  He sits in the same spot, with his same laptop, with his same cup of coffee every – single –  day.  He doesn’t go to this particular coffee shop because he sincerely likes the people more than the people at Starbucks, Heine Bros, or McDonald’s.  I am sure he likes the people there – that’s the type of person he is.  But he would like the people at the fore-mentioned locations as well.  Does he like the coffee at this place, sure he does.  But he doesn’t like it so much more than the other options.  It’s coffee.  Plus –  he puts four packets of sugar in his tall, bold capa-latte or whatever he drinks.  I’m confident that anything could taste great with four packs of sugar.  So it’s not the taste of the coffee or the people.  Maybe it’s the price?  Nope – he spends close to $4 everyday for his cup of Joe.   It’s possible that the seats are more comfortable at this coffee house than the rest.  But I asked him, and that wasn’t it either.  So what was it?

Plain and simple:  He formed a habit a long time ago and now he refuses to deviate from this daily approach. 

I’ll state the obvious, even though I am confident you still get the picture.  Over the last few years, my friend has spent thousands and thousands of hard earned dollars at this coffee shop.  So why didn’t McDonald’s consider trying to steal the thousands of dollars that are going to their competitors?  I bet after reading this, they wish they would have kept it going for just one more week.   At the end of the day, did their marketing approach generate a few additional customers?  Sure it did.  But they left billions on the table when they only needed 7 more days to generate that kind of return on investment. 

So let’s get back to you.  Where are you losing billions by not committing just one more week?  Can you afford to lose billions by not reading today?  What about working out?  Can you shift your eating pattern for 21 days just to return billions in “life” capital? 

My advice to you is this: commit to change one pattern in your life.  Commit for at least 21 days.  When you do – the return could be billions – or more. 

Jesus bless you and use you today.


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