BLS & BBV2020 Update

Dear Fellow Owners,

BLS was this week. OPNAD, NSLC, and the NFLA met with their respective company counterparts. It’s a process that looks very much like congress but with less lobbyists and lawyers. There is back and forth, there is good drama, and now there are checks and balances. There is transparency and accountability that was missing these last few years. Your leadership owners (almost all are NOA members) are making every decision with the best interest of our restaurants in mind. Their North Star is your profitability. We are squeezing the ketchup packets, we are counting the ketchup packets, and if there is a better ketchup packet, we are going after that too. It’s not perfect, but it is working. Mark, Vicki, and Jon along with hundreds of owners are doing good work on our behalf.

The Decahedron that Fred built (along with us) was predicated on a process. It was a system, just like our restaurants are predicated on systems. With BBV2020, we tried a different approach. We tried to write everything into a contract. To formalize the approach. To reduce the need for the back and forth. To try a one size fits all model. Most of us signed this contract (kudos to those few that had the courage to not sign). We can claim that we were misinformed, coerced, relying on our operator leadership, but we signed a contract. And so we are bound by it, as is the company. True, there is plenty that has not materialized as promised. There is plenty to build our case and perhaps we would have won our day in court. We could have filed a class action lawsuit the likes of which our industry has never seen. The headlines would have been huge. And perhaps sweet vindication would salve our bitter wounds. But what of the collateral damage? How do we square a brand representing happiness with a brand that lives in a court room surrounded by fierce attorneys? No offense to attorneys, but generating happiness is not what they do. If you have been injured by the company, you should pursue all means of recourse and we will support you. But as an Association, we elected to not pursue legal action.

Mark and Chris K announced the amended BBV2020 contract this week. We believe the company has made a good faith effort of correcting the majority of the deficiencies in the BBV2020 contract. We salute Mark and the entire leadership body for their hard work making the best of a bad situation. We at NOA, maintain that contracts trying to govern a system of our size is the root of the problem. We believe the entrepreneurial spirit should be utilized whenever possible and that the field produces the best solutions. This is McDonald’s secret sauce. Contracts like BBV2020 dampen that spirit as do picking winners and losers from ivory towers. We should all take this lesson to heart and not repeat it.

Chris K should also be thanked. Bringing science and data analysis to our system can produce profound results. Chris and his team are talented, and with the right partnership, we can achieve great things (and profits). But just like in life, we need a balance between science and art. The numbers do not tell all of the story. Science alone does not produce a happy meal. People (with or without robots) do and that’s where the art begins. We own the restaurants and we are in the people business. Ray and Fred never forgot this. Nor should we.

Your “best is yet to come” NOA Board.