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While traveling recently it was time to put gas in the car and get some lunch. We ended up at McDonald’s (as an infrequent fast food customer I have to say the food was surprising good).

I walked in and four minutes later I was back at the car. My wife thought I was frustrated from waiting and we’d be going somewhere else because I was back so fast. Nope, I had a salad and two sandwiches and we were ready to hit the road.

McDonald’s has been around for over 50 years. They’ve taken heat for a few things including the nutritional value of their menu. However, they’ve adapted. They offer healthy choices (fruit, salads with healthy dressings, whole grain buns and more).

They still have their same business model that allowed me to spend four minutes to get my food. I thought there would be long lines given that the parking lot was full. I wondered how it all would work given all the employees I saw appeared to be teenagers.

The lesson is, when you have systems and a model that works, you can exploit it. To a small business, this means reduce dependencies you have, especially on the owner. If after 50 years McDonald’s can run efficiently with a lot of teenage employees (and I’m sure a still high turnover rate) it would seem that small businesses could install systems that work whether the owner is there or not.

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