Simplicity promotes stable growth, The McDonald’s fast food franchise is the largest chain of restaurants in the world. Many people don’t realize that simplicity was a major factor in the company’s early growth. When the fast food tycoon Ray Kroc took over operations, he knew that McDonald’s needed an assembly line–inspired model of production to provide a consistent and reliable customer experience. He knew that a Big Mac in Chicago needed to taste the same as a Big Mac in Honolulu.
In the early days of the chain, when Kroc was laser-focused on cultivating consistency, it was important that McDonald’s offered only a few menu items. It was easier to keep a tight rein on quality control with a limited menu of burgers and fries. The assembly-line model of the McDonald’s kitchen was the centerpiece of its efficiency. The work of the person at the grill was always top of mind when Kroc and his associates considered changes and improvements. If a potential change would slow down or complicate the work of the person at the grill, it was scrapped.
By tightly controlling every aspect of the kitchen work and the product, Kroc ensured that every McDonald’s was up to his high standards. That legacy has endured. To this day, McDonald’s seldom changes its menu without careful consideration. The company adds items rarely, and only when there’s a clear business interest in doing so, Simplicity promotes stable growth.
Many consumers are more interested in access than ownership. They want to use and experience products and services without making a full investment. The so-called membership economy trend speaks to a fundamental human need: the desire to belong to a community. In a world where people feel less connected with their religious organizations, their neighbors, and even their families, your organization’s membership program can provide a vital emotional benefit.
If you’re designing or maintaining a new membership program for your organization (and you should be!), it might be helpful to think of the program as a community. You’re not just selling access to a product or a service; you’re also selling a relationship. Consider the model of community-supported agriculture programs, in which farms sell memberships to nearby customers. Customers pay a membership fee, and in return, farmers periodically deliver shares of the harvest to those paying members. Beyond that transaction, CSAs build emotional bonds with customers by offering recipes, sending out newsletters, and inviting customers to visit the farm. These small touches build long-term loyalty that makes the membership program more stable and pleasant for everyone involved.
Now more than ever, people are looking for validation and connection as an antidote to alienation. Thinking about new ways that your membership program can meet those needs will enrich your work and the organization’s bottom line.