Why Were the McDonald Brothers Initially Reluctant to Use the Franchise Model?

Why Were the McDonald Brothers Initially Reluctant to Use the Franchise Model?

In the mid-1950s, when Ray Kroc approached the McDonald brothers with the idea of franchising their successful fast-food restaurant, they were initially hesitant to adopt this model. Richard and Maurice McDonald had built their restaurant in San Bernardino, California, with a focus on quality, efficiency, and consistency. However, after facing several challenges, they finally agreed to give franchising a chance, which eventually led to the global success of the McDonald’s brand.

One of the primary reasons for their reluctance was their concern about maintaining the quality and consistency of their food. The McDonald brothers had spent years perfecting their system, which involved a meticulous process of preparing and serving food quickly. They feared that franchising would lead to a compromise in this system, as different franchisees might alter the menu or deviate from the established procedures.

Moreover, the brothers were also worried about their brand being associated with subpar operations. They were unsure if other franchisees would be able to replicate the efficiency and cleanliness of their original restaurant, which they had worked so hard to achieve. They were concerned that inconsistencies among franchise locations would harm the reputation they had built.

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Additionally, the brothers were content with the success they had achieved with their single restaurant and were not interested in expanding further. They preferred to maintain control over their operations and were satisfied with the profits they were making. They believed that franchising would introduce complexities and challenges that they did not want to deal with.

However, Ray Kroc, a struggling milkshake machine salesman who had witnessed the enormous potential of the McDonald’s concept, persisted in convincing the brothers to give franchising a chance. He assured them that he would maintain their strict standards and protect the integrity of the brand. Eventually, the McDonald brothers agreed to a deal with Kroc, which granted him the rights to franchise their restaurant.


1. Did the McDonald brothers ever regret their decision to franchise?
No, despite initially being reluctant, they eventually saw the potential and success of the franchise model.

2. How did franchising impact the growth of McDonald’s?
Franchising allowed McDonald’s to rapidly expand and establish a global presence.

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3. Did the McDonald brothers continue to be involved after franchising?
No, they sold their stake to Ray Kroc and retired from the business.

4. Did the McDonald brothers receive any royalties from the franchisees?
Yes, they received a percentage of the sales as royalties.

5. How many franchisees did McDonald’s have in its early years?
By the end of the 1950s, there were approximately 100 franchisees.

6. What were the criteria for becoming a McDonald’s franchisee?
Franchisees had to adhere to strict standards, undergo training, and meet financial requirements.

7. Did the McDonald brothers maintain any control over the franchisees?
Initially, they had some influence, but after selling their stake, they had no control over the franchisees.

8. Was the franchise model successful for McDonald’s?
Yes, it turned out to be highly successful, contributing to the brand’s global dominance.

9. Did the McDonald brothers open any additional restaurants after franchising?
No, they did not open any new restaurants and instead focused on real estate investments.

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