Thoughts on starting and running a small business

And now over to McDonalds

I admire McDonalds as a corporation. I don’t often eat at McDonalds but it isn’t because I am on a soapbox of how bad it is for you. All things considered, a burger and fries is in the treat category  (like cupcakes) and some people prefer Big Macs and others would rather eat a hand-chopped craft-style burger topped with Brie.

McDonalds is quicker to figure stuff out than other fast food places. Salads? They had them first. Better coffee? Quick to get  that done. Responses to serious concerns about their sourcing? They launched an amazing PR campaign where they took all the angry questions, made them really public, and answered them – I think they put them up on billboards for awhile.

Compared to McDonalds, my little business is an ant on an elephant – a very little ant – but business is business: a company reads what’s happening accurately and survives,  or makes too many wrong calls and is out.

I’ve written here often about the goof-ball decisions I’ve made at PGB but today’s post is about  one decision that has always felt right.

Nuts and peanut butter.

In planning the Prairie Girl menu back in 2010, advice came from all corners to have a nut-free menu and kitchen. Schools don’t allow them! So many people have allergies!  These voices were loud and convincing.

In the end, I went with my gut – literally – I love peanut butter, all nuts in fact. If I was going to get excited about a bakery, it had to include my fave ingredients.

Here is what I’ve  found over the last six years:

  • the vast majority of people love nuts
  • it is EXTREMELY difficult to hold yourself out as nut-free because not only must the kitchen be  nut-free, all ingredients must come from nut-free manufacturing plants
  • offering up a nut-free option is a risky business indeed because of the severity of nut allergies i.e. life or death

So I was very interested yesterday when I read  that McDonalds Canada is walking back from its nut-free stance. I didn’t know that they held themselves out as nut-free and I can really understand the furor that has erupted in  the allergy community. Parents who have always relied on McDonalds as their go-to place can’t do so anymore.

On the  other hand, based on PGB’s experience, they are making the right business decision.  The CEO stated that they are responding to growing customer demands for more diverse offerings. For example, now they can offer new items such as Skor McFlurrys. We have a Toffee Treat of the Week topped with chopped SKOR bars…I think they are going to do very well indeed on this new McFlurry!

The article I read stated that research indicates 2% of Canadian have peanut allergies and 2.4% have tree-nut allergies. Those are small percentages and yet, understandably, the people in those percentages are very upset. But sometimes the right call in business is going to upset people…I wish it weren’t the case!

 

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