10 Reasons Ray Kroc Is My Hero

I usually write about women that I admire, but there are several men I admire too. Today I want to discuss Ray Kroc.

  1. Ray Kroc was a high school dropout who attempted several different careers before settling into the career of milkshake machine salesman: paper-cup salesman, pianist, jazz musician, band member, and employee at an Oak Park, Illionois radio station.
  2. Kroc sold milkshake machines for 17 years. His sales began to decline; he noticed that Mom-and-Pop stores and drugstore soda counters were no longer placing orders, while a small restaurant in California was his biggest customer. So he traveled to meet with Dick and Mac McDonald and figured out how their restaurant was thriving amidst changing times.
  3. From this observation Kroc drew up a deal with the McDonald brothers: he would franchise their restaurants and sell his mixers in their new locations. His confidence in what he had seen was unshakable. He later noted, “I was 52 years old. I had diabetes and incipient arthritis. I had lost my gall bladder and most of my thyroid gland in earlier campaigns, but I was convinced that the best was ahead of me.” He was even more convinced than the McDonalds and eventually cajoled them into selling out to him in 1961 for only $2.7 million. [source]
  4. Over time, Kroc implemented several ideas from other businesses to make McDonald’s restaurants a new breed of business. For example, he took Henry Ford’s assembly line idea and structured the way hamburgers were assembled; he made standardization the basis for operations, so that each Big Mac sandwich in each McDonald’s would taste exactly the same.
  5. Theorhetically, Kroc didn’t implement anything that was totally new; but he changed the way fast food restaurants operated and the way in which Americans ate. By insisting that his burgers remain affordable, Kroc provided a product that low-income families could enjoy. He stayed abreast of the drive-in restaurant phenomenon and made sure that McDonalds Corp was involved in that. And by outlining upon standards of cleanliness and service, he ensured that his restaurants provided a level of service across the board.
  6. By 1963 more than 1 billion hamburgers had been sold, a statistic that was displayed on a neon sign in front of each restaurant. That same year, the 500th McDonald’s restaurant opened and the famous clown, Ronald McDonald, made his debut.
  7. While running McDonalds he realized that a big chunk of the profits would come from the land on which his franchisees were established. In 1956 Kroc set up the Franchise Realty Corporation, which bought land and leased it out to franchisees. Beginning in 1961 Kroc began recruiting franchisees at a feverish pace. The revenues that the company received from the franchisees made it easier for Kroc to raise capital in the financial markets. He utilized some of the money to create an enduring advertising campaign that centered on the company’s mascot.
  8. Kroc began franchising McDonalds restaurants for the McDonald brothers in 1954, when he was 52 years old. He served as chairman of McDonalds Corp. from 1968 until his death in 1984 at the age of 81.
  9. Even after McDonald’s was well established, Kroc still tried (often with dismal results) to move forward with other business ventures. He established upscale hamburger restaurants, German-tavern restaurants, pie shops and even theme parks, like Disneyland. These ventures were not a success but they show that Kroc always had a keen sense of the power of novelty and a strong belief in himself and his vision.
  10. Ray Kroc’s net worth was estimated at $500 million at the time of his death. When his widow, Joan Kroc, died in 2003, her estimated net worth was $1.2 billion based on what she inherited from her husband.

9 thoughts on “10 Reasons Ray Kroc Is My Hero

  1. This was very inspiring. For several years, I’ve bee obsessed with the concept of the “late bloomer” because we are a culture so focused on achieving everything in youth. Thanks for helping us remember this story.

    1. You’re welcome Tiff =) I like the fact that we can prove society’s youth-focused notion of achievement wrong. Like once you reach a certain age, you’re just supposed to stop making it happen – yeah right!

  2. Woooooooow! Stories like this always jolt my motivation meter. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just make it better.

    Tiffany- One of my favorite quotes. It is never too late, to be what you might have been.

  3. Thanks so much, so inspiring!!! I actually am a Store Manager as well as starting a restaurant services and success coaching firm. Some big wigs are coming in from McD’s today and your recap have helped me get focused and excited! Thanks!

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