Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
It had become a joke.
Not of the funny variety.
If you were a regular at McDonald's, you knew that if you wafted in during the evening, craving a McFlurry or a shake, there was a very good chance that the ice cream machine was down.
Customers became so frustrated that they tossed invective at the brand on social media. For example: "hey @McDonalds develop an app so we can see if your ice cream machine is 'broken down' at each location."
Some customers just posted incredulous GIFs, as if to say: "You're kidding me. Not again."
Here's how bad it got. Rival Sonic started to mock McDonald's with a sign that read: "Our ice cream machine works, unlike Mc....NVM."
Indeed, Sonic is currently offering: "1/2 Price Shakes & Ice Cream Slushes After 8PM." I wonder why.
The problem, you see, is that, like many a celebrity chef, McDonald's ice cream machines required a lot of maintenance.
So staff would use the relatively quiet hours to perform the laborious cleaning tasks. Sometimes, though, the machines would just break down.
It's odd that McDonald's didn't react sooner to this. Perhaps the troubled company has too many other things to think about, like trying to make its burgers a little more queasy-making.
Finally, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that McDonald's is introducing new ice cream machines. These have fewer moving parts, which makes them easier to clean. They also don't break down as often.
Indeed, they've already been used in other parts of the world, with great success.
Why, then, did it take McDonald's so long to introduce them here?
One would have imagined that ice cream is a fairly high-margin product, one that could contribute to alleviating a chill in the bottom line.
I asked McDonald's this very question and will update, should I receive the just desserts of a reply.
Knowing when to react to customers -- and presumably, your own staff members -- is a tricky business. A big company might know there's a need to do something, but not have the internal priority set in enough executive minds.
Budgets are dedicated to many different areas and someone, somewhere seems to have decided that these machines represented a low priority.
When you're McDonald's and you have so many moving parts, things can break down -- just like the ice cream machines.
But it's odd how many times companies react only when they become the butt of jokes.
I wonder how McDonald's will advertise their new ice cream machines.
Perhaps with a McFlurry of marketing activity. How about signs at every McDonald's that read: "Our ice-cream machine's working. We finally agreed to pay it overtime."