Dear Fellow Members,

It’s been a busy week at McDonald’s, our hometown. Never have we seen the amount of disruption and displacement to our daily lives. The pandemic has not receded. For many of us in the South and West, we now know what living with the virus means. America continues to rely on the Golden Arches for safety and comfort. Our Drive Thru’s have never been more essential. Our smiling crews are a welcome relief in our customers’ stressed day. Cashless is a requirement (we are running out of change), and mobile order pay is the ultimate contactless transaction. Cleanliness and food safety have been our brand standards for 65 years. However we reopen, cleanliness will be critical. America is counting it.

We are also living with an enormous amount of unemployment. Shutting down our economy to save lives has major implications that Wall Street and Washington have not fully comprehended. Not since the Great Depression have unemployment levels been this high. With unemployment benefits ending next month, we will see more pressure for government support. The consumer will be further stressed. We will need to play our part. We have never taken EBT payments before, but we should consider doing so. We are a staple for million of Americans and we can provide a nutritious hot meal better than anyone. America still deserves a break.

Our franchise model has been an incredible success over the years. It has allowed the Golden Arches to traverse the globe and yet provide a local touch that no other global brand can claim. It has proven invaluable during these last few months. Our local owners were able to provide critical on the ground decision making during multiple phases of the crisis (and it’s not over) while our collective scale sourced the necessary PPE to protect our crews and customers. It’s a tricky balance. We forgo some of our main street autonomy and cashflow for corporate support. The same goes for MHQ. The corporation forgoes cashflow and control for the privilege of having entrepreneurs imbedded in their system. Working within a framework, our system allows creativity where it counts. It also keeps the decision making and resources where it can do the most good. No matter how much a Starbucks Area Supervisor or a Chipotle Manger may want to help, they are constrained in ways we are not. We must use our resources and autonomy for the greatest good in our communities. They will need the Golden Arches like never before.

Ray and Fred knew the inherent conflict of a system like ours. Fred often talked about the dangers of the bureaucratic blanket and the threat of too much centralized power. It’s a delicate balance amongst the legs of the stool. Our self interest can compete as much as complement. It’s up to all of us to remember the marriage we are committed to. To remember that our strength comes from our unity. To trust each other and listen to one an another. We must bring forth our customer knowledge from the street level. The corporation brings their expert analysis to the table. Our suppliers can and do bring important insights and ideas. It’s the combination of all three that produce the strongest outcomes. It’s when we work on the solutions together that we win. When we work in our silos, we lose. Working together takes work. It’s harder to manage by committee. The McDonald’s system is loaded with committees. It can be frustrating and it can be painfully slow, but it’s worth it. Our strength is the proof.

Finally we wish everyone a healthy and happy 4th of July. No one will forget where we were for this one. 2020 has been one for the record books (and we aren’t half way done). The Golden Arches have once again proven their strength and you their good stewardship. Keep stewarding.

Your “grateful” NOA Board.

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