Key Franchising Takeaways From The McDonald’s Biopic, ‘The Founder’

The recent release of The Founder starring Michael Keaton has attracted plenty of press coverage about ethical business practices, franchising as a model and genius ideas failing to fulfil potential without the right people.

Here’s some of the key takeaway’s we got from the film, specifically relating to franchising:


  1. Control Issues

Franchisors ultimately have control of the brand and business direction. Franchisees have control of how that brand is provided within their territory. Their needs to be clear understanding and guidelines between both parties to ensure there isn’t conflict. In the case of The McDonald’s founders Dick and Mac, and Master Franchisor Ray Croc, there was conflict throughout, which was down in part to the brothers not taking control of their business from the very early stages and giving too much power to Croc with exclusive rights to the US territory. Set out clear guidelines from the start so both parties know where they stand.

  1. Need To Innovate

Franchisors needs to continue to develop and grow the business to maximize it’s full potential. Failure to do this will not only stunt growth but cause greater issues across a network. This may ultimately result in the failure and demise of the brand. McDonald’s can in some ways be seen as an extreme example, where Croc’s drive and power, as well as ideas to innovate and evolve where simply too fast for the brothers, so conflict ensued. As a Franchisee, you should strive to not only maximize the growth within your area but also contribute to the bigger picture. This said push a Franchisor too far and it can get messy. In this case, due to the power struggle between both parties it was only going to end with a difficult conclusion.

  1. The Power of Franchising

Was Ray Croc too ruthless in buying out the brothers and the power plays he carried out? Were the McDonald brothers too slow and risk averse to react to the market? What can be clearly seen from the film and the continued success of the brand almost 100 years on is the powerful nature of a good idea and product being spread and capitalized on through the method of franchising. Croc was very quick to see the potential of the fast food business and had the vision and persistence  to ensure it succeeded. Where the McDonald brothers failed previously, Croc grew the business into one of the largest and most recognizable franchise brands in the world.


What did you think of The Founder? Was Ray Croc a rule breaker or game changer?








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