Main content

How a milkshake-mixer salesman devised a business model that turned a burger restaurant into a global giant.

There are more than 36,000 McDonald's restaurants around the world - but if the McDonald brothers had had their way, that might never have happened. Tim Harford tells the story of how milkshake-mixer salesman Ray Kroc turned their burger business into a global giant, and explains the principles that made his franchising model such a success.

Available now

10 minutes

Last on

Mon 13 Jan 2020 04:50GMT

Image credit

The milk shake blender at the first McDonald's restaurant opened by founder Ray Kroc, now a museum run by the restaurant chain in Des Plaines, IL (Credit: Ralf-Finn Hestoft/Corbis/Getty Images)

Sources

Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonalds. 1987. Ray Kroc with Robert Anderson. Contemporary Books. Ch 1. McDonalds: Behind the Arches. 1987. John F Love. Transworld. P 23 & P 176.

McDonalds: Behind the Arches. 1987. John F Love. Transworld. P 3, P 16-19, P 22-26, P 53 & P 144-149.

The Economics of Franchising. 2005. Roger D. Blair, Francine Lafontaine. Cambridge University Press.

Top 100 Franchises 2019

The Economics of Franchising. 2005. Roger D. Blair, Francine Lafontaine. Cambridge University Press, and Jaimie Seaton “Martha Matilda Harper, The Greatest Businesswoman You’ve Never Heard Of” Atlas Obscura 11 January 2017  

Here's what it costs to open a McDonald's restaurant

McDonald's Wikipedia Page 

Ownership, Agency, and Wages: An Examination of Franchising in the Fast Food Industry. Alan B Kreuger. Quarterly Journal of Economics 106(1):75-101. February 1991.

Double-Sided Moral Hazard and the Nature of Share Contracts. Sugato Bhattacharyya and Francine Lafontaine. The RAND Journal of Economics, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 761-781.

Broadcasts

Podcast