The Company operates and franchises McDonald’s restaurants, which serve a locally-relevant menu of quality food and beverages in more than 100 countries. McDonald’s franchised restaurants are owned and operated under one of the following structures - conventional franchise, developmental license or affiliate. The optimal ownership structure for an individual restaurant, trading area or market (country) is based on a variety of factors, including the availability of individuals with the entrepreneurial experience and financial resources, as well as the local legal and regulatory environment in critical areas such as property ownership and franchising. We continually review our mix of Company-owned and franchised restaurants to help optimize overall performance, with a goal to be approximately 95% franchised over the long term. The business relationship between McDonald’s and its independent franchisees is supported by adhering to standards and policies and is of fundamental importance to overall performance and to protecting the McDonald’s brand.
The Company is primarily a franchisor, with approximately 93% of McDonald's restaurants currently owned and operated by independent franchisees. Franchising enables an individual to be his or her own employer and maintain control over all employment related matters, marketing and pricing decisions, while also benefiting from the strength of McDonald’s global brand, operating system and financial resources.
Directly operating McDonald’s restaurants contributes significantly to our ability to act as a credible franchisor. One of the strengths of the franchising model is that the expertise from operating Company-owned restaurants allows McDonald’s to improve the operations and success of all restaurants while innovations from franchisees can be tested and, when viable, efficiently implemented across relevant restaurants. Having Company-owned and operated restaurants provides Company personnel with a venue for restaurant operations training experience. In addition, in our Company-owned and operated restaurants, and in collaboration with franchisees, we are able to further develop and refine operating standards, marketing concepts and product and pricing strategies that will ultimately benefit McDonald’s restaurants.
Under a conventional franchise arrangement, the Company generally owns the land and building or secures a long-term lease for the restaurant location and the franchisee pays for equipment, signs, seating and décor. The Company believes that ownership of real estate, combined with the co-investment by franchisees, enables us to achieve restaurant performance levels that are among the highest in the industry.
Franchisees are also responsible for reinvesting capital in their businesses over time. In addition, to accelerate implementation of certain initiatives, the Company frequently co-invests with franchisees to fund improvements to their restaurants or their operating systems. These investments, developed in collaboration with franchisees are designed to cater to consumer preferences, improve local business performance, and increase the value of our brand through the development of modernized, more attractive and higher revenue generating restaurants.
The Company’s typical franchise term is 20 years. The Company requires franchisees to meet rigorous standards and generally does not work with passive investors. The business relationship with franchisees is designed to facilitate consistency and high quality at all McDonald’s restaurants. Conventional franchisees contribute to the Company’s revenue, primarily through the payment of rent and royalties based upon a percent of sales, with specified minimum rent payments, along with initial fees paid upon the opening of a new restaurant or grant of a new franchise. This structure enables McDonald’s to generate significant levels of cash flow.
Developmental License or Affiliate
Under a developmental license or affiliate arrangement, licensees are responsible for operating and managing the business, providing capital (including the real estate interest) and developing and opening new restaurants. The Company generally does not invest any capital under a developmental license or affiliate arrangement, and it receives a royalty based upon a percent of sales and generally will receive initial fees upon the opening of a new restaurant or grant of a new term. While developmental license and affiliate arrangements are largely the same, affiliate arrangements are used in a limited number of foreign markets where the Company also has an equity investment and records its share of net results in Equity in earnings of unconsolidated affiliates.
Supply chain, food safety, and quality assurance
The Company and its franchisees purchase food, packaging, equipment and other goods from numerous independent suppliers. The Company has established and enforces high food safety and quality standards. The Company has quality centers around the world designed to promote consistency of its high standards. The quality assurance process not only involves ongoing product reviews, but also
on-site supplier visits. A Food Safety Advisory Council, composed of the Company’s internal food safety experts, as well as suppliers and outside academia, provides strategic global leadership for all aspects of food safety. We have ongoing programs to educate employees about food safety practices, and our suppliers and restaurant operators participate in food safety trainings where we share best practices on food safety and quality. In addition, the Company works closely with suppliers to encourage innovation and drive continuous improvement. Leveraging scale, supply chain infrastructure and risk management strategies, the Company also collaborates with suppliers toward a goal of achieving competitive, predictable food and paper costs over the long term.
Independently owned and operated distribution centers, approved by the Company, distribute products and supplies to McDonald’s restaurants. In addition, restaurant personnel are trained in the proper storage, handling and preparation of food for customers.
McDonald’s restaurants offer a substantially uniform menu, although there are geographic variations to suit local consumer preferences and tastes. In addition, McDonald’s tests new products on an ongoing basis.
McDonald’s menu includes hamburgers and cheeseburgers, Big Mac, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Filet-O-Fish, several chicken sandwiches, Chicken McNuggets, wraps, french fries, salads, oatmeal, shakes, McFlurry desserts, sundaes, soft serve cones, pies, soft drinks, coffee, McCafé beverages and other beverages. In addition, the restaurants sell a variety of other products during limited-time promotions.
McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. and many international markets offer a full or limited breakfast menu. Breakfast offerings may include Egg McMuffin, Sausage McMuffin with Egg, McGriddles, biscuit and bagel sandwiches and hotcakes.
Quality, choice and nutrition are increasingly important to our customers and we are continuously evolving our menu to meet our customers' needs.
McDonald’s global brand is well known. Marketing, promotional and public relations activities are designed to promote McDonald’s brand and differentiate the Company from competitors. Marketing and promotional efforts focus on value, quality, food taste, menu choice, nutrition, convenience and the customer experience.
The Company owns or is licensed to use valuable intellectual property including trademarks, service marks, patents, copyrights, trade secrets and other proprietary information. The Company considers the trademarks “McDonald’s” and “The Golden Arches Logo” to be of material importance to its business. Depending on the jurisdiction, trademarks and service marks generally are valid as long as they are used and/or registered. Patents, copyrights and licenses are of varying durations.
McDonald’s restaurants compete with international, national, regional and local retailers of food products. The Company competes on the basis of price, convenience, service, menu variety and product quality in a highly fragmented global restaurant industry.
In measuring the Company’s competitive position, management reviews data compiled by Euromonitor International, a leading source of market data with respect to the global restaurant industry. The Company’s primary competition, which is referred to as the informal eating out ("IEO") segment, includes the following restaurant categories defined by Euromonitor International: quick-service eating establishments, casual dining full-service restaurants, street stalls or kiosks, cafés,100% home delivery/takeaway providers, specialist coffee shops, self-service cafeterias and juice/smoothie bars. The IEO segment excludes establishments that primarily serve alcohol and full-service restaurants other than casual dining.
Based on data from Euromonitor International, the global IEO segment was composed of approximately 9 million outlets and generated $1.3 trillion in annual sales in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available. McDonald’s Systemwide 2017 restaurant business accounted for 0.4% of those outlets and 7.1% of the sales.
Management also on occasion benchmarks McDonald’s against the entire restaurant industry, including the IEO segment defined above and all other full-service restaurants. Based on data from Euromonitor International, the restaurant industry was composed of approximately 19 million outlets and generated $2.5 trillion in annual sales in 2017. McDonald’s Systemwide restaurant business accounted for 0.2% of those outlets and 3.7% of the sales.
Number of employees
The Company’s number of employees worldwide, including its corporate office employees and Company-owned and operated restaurant employees, was approximately 210,000 as of year-end 2018.