McDonald’s has been around since 1955, and in the time since, it’s become a fixture of the American landscape. Granted it’s not the place to beat for fine dining, but for decades now the golden arches have served up quick meals at cheap prices, with the fast-food empire to show for it. In the wake of modern-day tastes, that might change soon; in fact, current trends and business decisions may not only put McDonald’s on the ropes, but potentially ensure that it goes down for the count – and sooner rather than later.

It’s true that even now, McDonald’s is the biggest fast food franchise around. Brand recognition alone means that it’ll stay relevant for a while yet.

The problem is that it’s long since started facing competition from rivals like Chipotle and Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Those rivals may be smaller, but in comparison they offer up better food and services for hungry customers. In that sense, McDonald’s size and pedigree are its undoing; the company is set in its ways, and in the eyes of some unsatisfied franchisees, it would take severe course correction to put the company back on track. In their eyes, some of the changes so far have done more harm than good.

The breakfast burden

On October 6th, McDonald’s announced that it would put its All-Day Breakfast initiative into effect. As the name implies, anyone who wanted to order hash browns or a sausage burrito without worrying about the 10:30 cutoff could do so.

It was a move designed to bring in customers – and while it has likely won over some fans, the problems have mounted as a result. McDonald’s, in the individual stores or at large, isn’t equipped for serving breakfast all day, which has led to equipment jams and slower service. That, in turn, can lead to unsatisfied customers; meanwhile, those that are satisfied still cost the company money, as they opt for the cheaper breakfast items instead of the meals that keep stores afloat.

Under the leadership of CEO Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s has seen several other changes to convert customers. Their successes have been debatable, however; digital kiosks began appearing inside stores, but the stores make the majority of their sales via the drive-thru. Updates to the food have happened as well, but their impact depends on customers actually choosing to buy in - and currently, that’s what McDonald’s needs dearly.

The company has seen eleven months of declining sales, with 350 stores closed this year, and another 350to follow by 2016.

The situation is less than ideal for McDonald’s, in spite of - or maybe because of - its size and legacy. It can likely keep going for a good while, but if the company can’t figure out how to keep up with changing tastes and times, then it may very well serve its last meal sometime soon.

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