McDonald's is facing a "deep depression" and could be in its "final days," according to some US franchise owners who were surveyed about the restaurant chain's recent performance.
In an attempt to shore up a slump, McDonald's introduced all-day breakfasts in its US stores, part of CEO Steve Easterbrook's 'turnaround plan' which also included digital ordering kiosks and other new menu items.
However, it seems like the new initiatives have simply caused headaches for restaurant operators, as they said in a survey conducted by analyst Mark Kalinowski.
"We are in the throes of a deep depression, and nothing is changing," wrote one franchisee.
"The CEO is sowing the seeds of our demise. We are a quick-serve fast-food restaurant, not a fast casual like Five Guys or Chipotle. The system may be facing its final days," said another.
The all-day breakfast has reportedly thrown a spanner in the works of the kitchens, with an extra range of menu items resulting in more pressure on the staff and a higher chance of mistakes.
Is New Hamburglar still a thing or did that go away pic.twitter.com/wY6XRsRKcA— alexmaswarrior (@alexwarrior) October 4, 2015
Other new ideas from head office currently in place in the US is the 'Create Your Taste' option, which allows customers to create their own burger from 30 different ingredients - obviously a big change for a restaurant chain more accustomed to dishing out a few staples at fast pace.
Other initiatives, some of which have been restricted to a few locations, include 'healthier' menu items like the kale breakfast bowl, and a gritty reboot of the chain's beloved Hamburglar character.
It's part of McDonald's plans to reverse an almost two-year decline in sales in the US, but some restaurant operators aren't impressed.
"The system is very lost at the moment. Our menu boards are still bloated, and we are still trying to be too many things to too many people."
"Things are broken from the franchisee perspective," one wrote.
McDonald's meals around the world
McDonald's meals around the world
1/14 Black and White burger, served in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan
The black burger contains beef and onion topped with black pepper sauce, while the white burger contains chicken with lettuce and a spicy sauce
2/14 McCurry Pan, served in India
A bread bowl filled with chicken curry
3/14 McBaguette, served in France
Baked in a ciabatta roll and topped with emmental cheese
4/14 McLobster, served in Canada
Only served in summer...
5/14 Shrimp burger, served in Japan
Prawn-filled burger topped with thousand island sauce
6/14 Das Nürnburger, served in Germany
Three Bratwurst sausages served with mustard inside a soft white bun
7/14 Prosperity Burger, served in Malaysia
Meat, meat, meat, onions and black pepper sauce
8/14 Chicken Maharaja Mac, served in India
9/14 Cheese Fondue (left) and Carbonara Burger (right)
Served only in Japan
10/14 Pasta Zoo
Australia and New Zealand's take on the Happy Meal
11/14 Deluxe Breakfast roll, served in Australia
With bacon, hash brown an egg and spicy tomato
Found in all good McEuropean restaurants
13/14 McAloo Tikki, served in India
14/14 Kiwi stick, served in Italy
Franchisees operate 81 per cent of McDonald's restaurants globally, so failing to improve their morale could pose bigger problems further down the line.
29 franchisees, who between them operate 226 restaurants, were interviewed by Kalinowski and asked to five their six-month forecast from 1 (bad) to 5 (excellent). The average score was 1.69, the lowest ever since the survey began 12 years ago.