Rich Birch: 5 Lessons Church Leaders Can Learn From the “All-Day Breakfast” Trend

In October 2015, McDonald’s made a significant change to its menu that made a huge difference to its bottom line and market reach. That month they added all-day breakfast to their offerings, and in many ways it ended up changing the course of history for this corporation.

For years, insiders had been saying that all-day breakfast, while a great addition to the menu, simply couldn’t be done. In fact, the turnover between the breakfast and the lunch menu kept stumping the logistics folks. It was almost a joke that you could get breakfast up until 10:29 a.m., but at 10:30 a.m. the entire kitchen had to turn over to lunch orders only.

People who follow this industry had been saying that offering an all-day breakfast menu was a potential way for McDonald’s to increase its reach and attract customers who normally wouldn’t return later in the day. I know for our little family this change meant a switch in our consumption habits. You see, my wife is the decision-maker when it comes to which restaurants we frequent. Now that she could order oatmeal or an egg McMuffin for dinner, it meant that McDonald’s was now on the list of restaurants that we could go to if we needed to make a quick stop for a meal!

The story of why McDonald’s began offering all-day breakfast is a fascinating one for church leaders to consider. For more than 30 consecutive years, the company had seen increases in its profits and stock value quarter after quarter. It was the darling of the Warren Buffet strategy to blue chip investing because of its consistent results.

However, for the first time, McDonald’s was experiencing a downturn with lower profits than the previous quarter; subsequently, their stock value fell. The company sprang into action and made a number of changes organization-wide. One of those outcomes included the introduction of the all-day breakfast menu. The rest is history: McDonald’s became wildly profitable again, their stock value increased [ref], and they essentially set the trend for all-day breakfast menus in the fast-food industry. A&W, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and the Canadian chain Tim Hortons all eventually made the switch. The impact of this trend was profound. In fact, there was such a significant increase in the demand for eggs that the price spiked in the year following McDonald’s introduction of this change. [ref]

How does this pertain to church leaders? It’s important that we try to glean lessons from an organization like McDonald’s as they discover the changing trends in their industry, and ask ourselves if there’s anything we can learn as we lead our churches. When considering the all-day breakfast trend, I see at least five clear lessons that you and I can apply to our churches.

What got us here won’t get us there.

McDonald’s decided to offer all-day breakfast because they realized that offering more Big Macs or Quarter Pounders wasn’t going to be enough if they wanted to grow as a company. Instead, they needed to address a core offering that would attract a whole new audience of people.

In terms of our roles as church leaders, we need to recognize that whatever God used in the past isn’t necessarily what He’s going to use today or tomorrow. If our styles, approaches or even ministry models are the same as they were 20 years ago, there’s a good chance that we’ve already plateaued or are in decline.

What are those things that worked at one point in time that aren’t working now?

What part of our regular “menu” do we need to refresh? What new options do we need to consider adding?

Systems are needed to support change.

If you study McDonald’s switch to all-day breakfast, you’ll see that the company needed to make considerable changes in order to actually be able to offer something as simple as an Egg McMuffin all day long. The entire restaurant needed to be reconsidered from the ground up, from the way the grills were engineered to the necessary marketing across many different channels to effectively roll out these huge changes to the public. Since most McDonald’s locations are franchises, it means that (in some ways) corporate can only pitch ideas to franchisees who ultimately decide whether or not they want to implement them. In this case, corporate knew that if all-day breakfast going to work, it would require a high level of network-wide adoption.

At our churches, we often think of the end product, but we don’t consider how to reach that end product or what is required to make it successful.

  • When we think about change at church, are we thinking about the systems behind the change?
  • What new leadership teams do we need to have in place to ensure that the changes we’re making will stand?
  • What investments do we need to make in testing new ideas and/or equipment to see if the changes we’re considering will have the impact we anticipate?
  • What old processes need to be thrown out or redesigned in order to support the change that we’re looking to implement?
  • Do we need to develop entirely new processes to reach our goal?

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Source: Church Leaders