Why I’m More Productive at McDonald’s Than Starbucks

Posted on: Mar 06, 2014

Categories: Millennial Perspective

Want to get stuff done? Go to McDonald’s. And to see the transformational work Curtis Zimmerman’s program does in restaurants, click here.

The work we do is less and less tied to a location, and that’s why I have spent a fair amount of time working while sitting in a variety of cafes, bookstores, and coffee shops.

This is Caroline, Curtis’ marketing manager, and my policy is that if free WiFi is available and I can get away with using my laptop without being rude, then I will take advantage of both. I’ll work anywhere that meets these two qualifications.

But my favorite place to get work done is McDonald’s.

It’s not because the scent of burgers and fries gets my creative juices flowing (though I’d love to read a study on that). No—it’s because McDonald’s offers a quiet, private, comfortable environment.

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve walked into a Starbucks that has limited seating, loud music, people shouting to hear each other over the music, and ridiculously efficient air conditioning. On a number of occasions, I’ve walked into a Starbucks and turned around and walked straight out again. If I wanted to work somewhere noisy, distracting, crowded, and cold, I’d sit in the bleachers at a hockey game.

Now, let’s take a trip into a nearby McDonald’s (probably closer than your local Starbucks, considering that there are about 15,000 more McDonald’s than Starbucks in the world). Quiet music playing overhead, sunlight streaming through the windows, and clean, wide-open booths with plenty of space for me to spread out my computer, notes, bag, and coat. Set me up with a yogurt parfait (less than a third of the calories of a Starbucks scone, FYI), and I’m ready to work.

Is it weird to bring work into a McDonald’s? Maybe. Do I ever feel weird? Not at all. If you take a gander at this photo essay, you’ll notice that there’s no “type” of person that frequents McDonald’s. At McDonalds, anything goes.

McDonald’s sells hamburgers. We all know that’s their product. But it also has created the added incentive of a pleasant, productivity-enhancing environment.

What are you offering your customers that has nothing to do with your product?

Your product isn’t the only thing that your customers are looking at—they’re looking for added value. What kind of experience will they have when they step into your store?

(Please note: I have nothing against Starbucks—I enjoy it very much. I happen to have an empty Venti cup sitting on my desk right at this second. But if I want to get work done, it’s the Golden Arches for me.)

Also, a quick note: The Zimmerman Group is working to transform the culture of McDonald’s one restaurant at a time, and it’s pretty amazing. Click here to learn more.

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