This past weekend I went to see the Founder, a movie about the man behind the origins of McDonald’s fast food empire staring Michael Keaton.
★ ★ ★ SPOILER ALERT★ ★ ★ Be advised this post describes some scenes from the movie.
The movie is based on a true story and about the life of Ray Kroc, a struggling salesman from Illinois. Ray met two brothers, Mac and Dick McDonald, who were running a burger operation during the 1950’s in Southern California.
Ray Kroc was extremely impressed by the McDonald brothers’ speedy system of making the food and saw franchise potential. He ingeniously positioned himself to be able to acquire the company from the brothers and create a billion-dollar empire known as McDonald’s.
Basically he stole it from them right under their noses!!!
Who Should See The Founder Movie?
I highly recommend that you go see the Founder if are a business owner or if you call yourself an entrepreneur. Make it a family night and take the kids too. There are some incredible lessons that we can all learn from this story.
In the movie, Ray had apparently been a salesman for some time, 17 years I think. People and businesses around town new him from trying to sell them one product or another.
In 1954 Ray met the McDonald brothers in San Berdino, California while he was a traveling milkshake machine salesman. The McDonald brothers had ordered an unusually high number of milkshake machines from Kroc so they were actually Ray’s clients.
The milkshake machines that he sold were top of the line and made five shakes at a time designed to be fast and increase restaurant efficiency.
Kroc, a high-school dropout, was so impressed with the McDonald brothers operation that he volunteered to partner with them in order to franchise the McDonald brother’s restaurant.
TOP 5 LESSONS LEARNED
Here are the top five lessons I learned from watching the Founder.
1) PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF
I think if you are a true entrepreneur you can not come out of this movie without being inspired by Kroc’s persistence (portrayed by actor Michael Keaton).
Ray Kroc believed persistence was the key to success. Well persistence, and some not so cool business practices.
Nevertheless, Ray was super committed and determined to keep going until he got it right, despite the numerous challenges and obstacles he faced as a husband, salesman, opportunist and entrepreneur.
One of my favorite lines from the movie
I know what you’re thinking…how the heck does a 52 year old, over the hill milkshake machine salesman build a fast food empire with 1600 restaurants at an annual revenue of 700 million dollars…one word…PERSISTENCE!” Ray Kroc
With unwavering persistence Ray Kroc, changed his life and the world. So the message I got from the movie was that persistence pays.
2) HAVE A VISION
As an entrepreneur you must have a vision. It’s something that you work toward without any sense of when it will be fully realized, perhaps never.
An ambitious man with a singular vision can be a powerful thing.
Ray saw the incredible potential of the McDonald brother’s restaurant. He envisioned opening McDonald’s restaurants all across the country and the people coming to McDonald’s 24/7 days a week.
His vision was much bigger than the McDonald brothers who were content with just being a successful local restaurant. The McDonald brothers were focused on just their product – hamburgers but Ray saw beyond that, he saw the unlimited business potential.
He eventually convinced the brothers to see his vision and expand through franchisees.
Here is that exact scene from the movie that won over the McDonald brothers…
3) LOOK FOR WAYS TO MORE EFFICIENT, BE AN INNOVATOR
To his credit, Kroc keeps looking for ways to improve what the McDonald brothers started. They, in turn, are loath to make any changes to what they understandably see as a winning formula.
This was the downfall of the McDonald’s brothers. When you are the entrepreneur or business that refuses to innovate you risk no longer being competitive and eventually you will lose great business partners/leaders who will break away from you and go align themselves with other people and businesses that appreciate what they bring to the table.
Ray Kroc believed the McDonald’s business needed to innovate to remain competitive and grow but the McDonald’s brothers were happy with the status quo.
In the beginning the McDonald brothers brought efficiency by innovating assembly line operations for their restaurant. Later, Kroc introduced standardization, automation and discipline.
As a business owner you can not be afraid to be innovative or find new ways to accomplish things. Learn to embrace and use today’s technology.
4) DON’T BE AFRAID TO TAKE RISKS
I think too many people never reach their full potential in life because they are too afraid to take any risks.
Entrepreneurs are problem solvers and risk takes at their core.
When Ray Kroc saw the potential of the McDonald brothers restaurant and he went all in. Short on cash, he even mortgaged his home just to strike a deal to franchise the brothers operation. Talk about risky!
Kroc was able to get a few franchises up and running before going through some other significant financial challenges. Kroc was struggling to make the business profitable and was on the verge of losing it all when he met Harry Sonneborn, a financial expert, at the bank.
Sonneborn gave him a new perspective, “Ray you’re not in the food-service business, you’re in the real-estate business.”
Sonneborn showed him a new way of making money off the deal with McDonald brothers on selling hamburgers and franchisees. This new way involved creating a real estate company that would buy up (or lease) the land on which all McDonald’s would be located.
The company would then sublease to the franchisee who would run the restaurant. Sonneborn further developed the plan to eventually take out mortgages to own both the building and the land.
5) IT’S NEVER TO LATE TO START
It’s truly amazing to see how a 50-year-old turned an idea into a global empire with many ups and down is truly extraordinary.
Kroc was a high school drop out and had been in the sales industry for most of his life. He struggled to keep food on the table.
In just six years of working with the McDonald brothers and finding their ambition ultimately falling short of his own, Ray bought them out and became the owner of McDonald’s Corporation in 1961.
It really doesn’t matter how old you are, you can start a business, open a franchise and still be successful in a short period of time.
As long as you have a vision, are persistent, determined and committed to your success eventually you can over come any obstacle and see your lifelong dreams come true!
There are probably several more lessons I can take away from this movie some good some bad but I think you get the point.
McDonald’s is a great case study on scaling, franchising and building a brand.
I personally think ‘The Founder’ was an incredible film and a must watch –especially for the young aspiring entrepreneurs.
I hope you have found this post helpful. If you do please share it with others so they may benefit from it too!
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Have you seen The Founder yet? If so please write your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.