Low point for McDonald’s franchisees: will all-day breakfast help?

A quarterly survey of McDonald’s franchisees shows operators are more pessimistic than they were three months ago, when the same poll found McDonald’s operators had the worst outlook in the survey’s 12-year history. And McDonald’s recent announcement of its plan to serve breakfast all day could make things worse.

The survey, conducted by industry analyst Mark Kalinowski and released last week, recorded its lowest-ever ratings, both on franchisees’ financial expectations and their relationship with McDonald’s corporate.

The survey also revealed skepticism about McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook’s ’s turnaround plan, announced in May, which calls for streamlining McDonald’s corporate structure, cutting menu items to speed up service, and removing antibiotics and complex ingredients from food items.

But what about recent news that McDonald’s may soon roll out breakfast all day?

An all-day breakfast menu will require additional equipment and investment from franchisees whose coffers have been drained by corporate-imposed capex projects in recent years. One franchisee noted, “All the re-investments over the last five years with MRPs [major remodel projects], rebuilds and kitchen and lobby remodels – not to mention the McCafé and blended ice machine remodels – have absolutely killed the operator’s equity in their business.”

A former McDonald’s franchisee and current industry consultant argues that that all-day breakfast will only work if the current rest-of-the-day menu is significantly reduced. Adding breakfast on top of everything currently offered, he said, “will only make restaurant operations less efficient and slower.”

Though the company recently pulled a handful of items, it has continued to pile on new offerings like artisanal chicken sandwiches and sirloin burgers nationwide as well as regional selections like lobster rolls in New England and Old Bay fish fillets in the Mid-Atlantic.

One franchisee contended that this change may be pulling operators in too many different directions: “Create Your Taste, TasteCrafted, all Day Breakfast, etc. etc. We are going in so many directions at the same time. I guess that’s what a progressive brand does?”

What do you think: Will breakfast all day help turn the tide at McDonalds, or will it be another disappointment for franchisees?