When Vikram Bakshi, reinstated as the Managing Director of Connaught Plaza Restaurants Private Limited (CRPL), McDonalds JV in India, drafts out a plan with Board of Directors to reopen 43 outlets in North and East India, the biggest challenge for him is to win back the trust of Indians in this brand which has been a synonym for burgers since October 1996.
Vikram Bakshi (who was dramatically ousted in August 2013) and McDonalds, have been involved in a long legal battle, the outcome of which is the reappointment of Vikram Bakshi as the MD, though he and his wife were board members with voting rights on all decisions. So, was the closure of outlets an outcome of a personal battle? Whatever the reason may be, the result is that McDonalds has been dethroned by Dominos, from its pole position in 2013 as the largest QSR chain in the country.
Philip Kotler’s description of the 3 F’s of Marketing of Services: Fast, Flexible and Friendly have to be revisited while thinking of revamping the business in North and East India. Here are some of my thoughts after an analysis, on what can be done now, assuming that the problem has been taken care of (due to which outlets were shut down)
Educate the Customers about the Problem
Being transparent about the problem that occurred wins customer trust and indicates that there is nothing to hide. The customers will come back if they know what happened and how did it get resolved. The Corporate communication team has some work to do here.
Appoint a Crisis Manager
The very first thing that Vikram Bakshi can do is to appoint a Crisis Manager to deal with specific goals such as increasing customer loyalty, store footfalls or build emotional connect with customers. A person focussed on this task is important as there will be other operational and legal issues to handle.
Add Product Variants
At least one or two, fresh and new products should be introduced, along with the old and famous menu, which will be a value proposition for customers to come back to McDonalds. Introduce new categories, add festival related products (develops connect) targeted towards North and East India. They should also not rule out the possibility of adding wheat bread burgers to give the urban customer a health variant of enjoying a burger at a lower calorie count, but the taste of a McDonalds burger.
Beef Up Advertising
It is important to communicate with the customers frequently and directly. The more the customers see and hear from McDonalds, the more they are likely to come back to the stores. This is something which McDonalds have done well in the past.
Take responsibility for Customer Service
An impeccable customer service is a WOW factor. It will only remove the barriers for a customer standing outside a store to enter, once again into this store. Do something about sorting long queues or online ordering.
The battle of the pole position with the likes of Dominos, and the ever growing awareness of the Indian consumers about the benefits of organic and health-friendly products will not be easy. However, given the scale, experience and the food of this company, McDonalds will not leave the ground easily. It will be therefore, interesting to see if the Indian customer comes back to McDonalds and says “I’m lovin it”.
Please share your comments and opinion. I’d love to hear them!
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