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麦当劳为何不惧衰退?

麦当劳为何不惧衰退?

Beth Kowitt 2011年08月26日
凭借吉姆•斯金纳严谨、实用的领导风格,麦当劳餐饮帝国正在上演一场史无前例的超越。

    伊利诺伊州奥克布鲁克市,麦当劳CEO吉姆•斯金纳正在视察当地一家连锁店的厨房。他事无巨细,要求严苛,或许他的同行们只有对待财务报告时才会如此。他一边检查食物准备区,一边向我详细解释“如何检查脆薯饼”这款麦当劳几年前就已经推出的产品;并且告诫我不要碰任何东西。“除非你想在这里工作,”他补充道。毕竟,在当前的经济形势下,麦当劳是为数不多仍在招聘的公司之一。

    但是,如果你认为斯金纳是一名微观管理者,那你就错了——他只是特别重视麦当劳在全球的33,000家连锁店的效率和表现,以及大量复杂的配套基础设施。正是在麦当劳的鼎盛时期,他形成了这种管理风格。现年66岁的斯金纳2004年成为麦当劳CEO。此后,麦当劳每年都以5%的速度增长,去年公司收入超过240亿美元。而在其七年任期内,受到密切关注的行业标准,即同店销售额,每年都在增长。与此同时,公司股票累计收益率超过250%(即便八月初股市暴跌后依然涨势强劲),而同一阶段标准普尔500(S&P 500)股票的平均收益率仅为16%。(点击阅读本刊2005年文章,了解麦当劳如何选定合适的CEO继任者。)

    如果你最近没有光顾麦当劳,你肯定会认为,公司只是占了美国和其他地区经济不景气的便宜,因为在这种情况下,节衣缩食的消费者们纷纷放弃了正式的餐厅,转而到快餐店就餐。但为了维持麦当劳目前所取得的成绩,以及平安渡过当前的经济动荡,斯金纳一方面要留住巨无霸和炸薯条的铁杆粉丝,同时又必须想方设法吸引更多食客。所以,现在除了汉堡和奶昔,消费者还可以到麦当劳挑选一款快餐卷或水果冰沙,或者来一杯正宗的拿铁咖啡【这令星巴克(Starbucks)怒火中烧】,而这些都能增加每家连锁店的销售额。去年,每家连锁店的平均销售额从2004年的160万美元增长到240万美元。

    下面,我们来细数一下要成功实现这种总体转变必须正确执行的所有步骤:测试厨房是否有能力不断推出能够广受欢迎的食谱(顾客们对McPizzas这样的食品已经厌烦了);公司必须建立一支能处理大额订单的供应商队伍;员工需要接受针对新品的制作进行培训;而营销人员必须找出有效的方式推销产品——与此同时,还要时刻提防“食物警察”,他们紧盯着公司食品的营养价值,这让麦当劳困扰不已。好在斯金纳是一位运营奇才,他将这家餐饮业巨头成功变成一台运行良好的机器,并坚持在整个公司推行规划与责任制——即便脆薯饼也要接受检查。瑞士联合银行(UBS)分析师大卫•帕尔默表示:“麦当劳是管理界的奇迹。”正是出于这个原因,在《财富》杂志(Fortune)评选出的首支商界高管“梦之队”(由最优秀的高管组成的全明星阵容)中,斯金纳入选首发名单。

    斯金纳为人低调,也未能完成大学学业。所以当时在麦当劳内部,极少有人会料到会由这个生于美国中西部的人出任公司CEO。身高5.6英尺的斯金纳极少在采访中谈论自己,他说:“我从来都是‘龙套’。‘让爱荷华达文波特的小个子来试试。’当时没有人会这么想:”2004年11月,斯金纳终于从“龙套”一跃成为公司的“男一号”,当时公司被悲伤的气氛所笼罩:前CEO吉姆•坎塔卢普在那一年因心脏病去世,而他的继任者查理•贝尔在上任七个月后,因癌症需接受治疗而不得不提出辞职。2005年1月,查理•贝尔去世。

    Jim Skinner, CEO of McDonald's, is inspecting the kitchen of one of his restaurants in Oak Brook, Ill., with the rigor many of his peers might reserve for financial reports. He examines the food-preparation area as he explains, in great detail, the "review of the hash browns" that McDonald's initiated a few years ago -- and admonishes me to not touch anything. "Unless you feel like you want to have a job," he adds. McDonald's, after all, is one of the few places hiring these days.

    Skinner isn't a micromanager. He's simply intensely focused on the efficiency and performance of McDonald's (MCD) 33,000 restaurants worldwide and the enormous, complex infrastructure that supports them, a managerial trait that has resulted in nothing short of a Golden Age for the Golden Arches. Since Skinner, 66, became CEO in 2004, the company has delivered an annual growth rate of 5%, with revenue topping $24 billion last year. Same-store sales, a closely watched industry metric, have climbed each of the seven years of his tenure, and in that time the stock has returned more than 250% -- even after the early-August equities selloff -- vs. 16% for the S&P 500 (SPX). [Click here to read our 2005 story about how McDonald's got CEO succession right.]

    If you haven't been in a McDonald's lately, you might assume that the company simply has been the beneficiary of the struggling economy in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, and that cost-conscious consumers are flocking to fast-food eateries instead of sit-down restaurants. But to post the kind of impressive numbers McDonald's has -- and to weather the current turmoil -- Skinner has had to find ways to attract new diners while retaining the hard-core Big Mac-and-fries crowd. And so today, along with burgers and shakes, you can stroll into a McDonald's and pick up a snack wrap or a fruit smoothie or a decent latte (much to Starbucks' chagrin), all of which translates into higher sales per location. Last year average per-store sales jumped to $2.4 million, from $1.6 million in 2004.

    Now think of all the things that have to go right to pull off that kind of global transformation: Test kitchens need to churn out winning recipes (no more McPizzas!), the company must line up suppliers who can handle big orders, the crews have to be trained to prepare new items, and marketers must figure out a way to sell them -- all while fending off the food police who, not without merit, dog the company about the nutritional value of its fare. Luckily for McDonald's, Skinner is an operations whiz who has turned the restaurant giant into a well-oiled machine, insisting on planning and accountability throughout the company -- even hash browns are subject to review. "McDonald's has been an execution wonder," says UBS analyst David Palmer. That's why Fortune has named Skinner to the starting lineup of our first Executive Dream Team, an all-star roster of top-performing executives.

    Yet few at McDonald's ever expected the publicity-shy Midwesterner, who never graduated from college, to become CEO. "I've been a walk-on in everything; nobody was thinking, 'Get the little guy from Davenport, Iowa,'" says the 5-foot-6 Skinner, who rarely talks about himself in interviews. His transition from supporting player to team captain in November 2004 came under tragic circumstances: Former CEO Jim Cantalupo died of a heart attack that year, and Cantalupo's successor, Charlie Bell, resigned as he underwent treatment for cancer after just seven months on the job. He died in January 2005.

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