It is a special business where, in this economy, same-store global sales are up 7.5% percent, but the stock price still falls 3.3% on the news. But that is what happened to McDonald’s yesterday. Reuters reports that the cold winter in Europe combined with continuing concerns for the health of the European economy depressed sales in Europe, leading to the 0.2% miss in sales growth. (Analysts had expected same-store growth of 7.7%.)

What is frankly more fascinating to me, though, is how McDonald’s is planning for the future retirement of thousands of its Baby Boomer franchisees–and what the franchise community might learn from the McDonald’s experience. Helpfully, Julie Jargon of the Wall Street Journal authored a Page 1 report published yesterday under the title: "’Super Size Me’ Generation Takes Over at McDonald’s" (subscription required).

The article reports that 30% of McDonald’s U.S. franchisees are now "next generation"–meaning they are the children of franchisees. McDonald’s–in keeping with its high standards–does not allow pure nepotism. Instead, children of franchisees go through a several year process of proving themselves before they can become approved franchisees themselves.

Perhaps not surprisingly, younger franchisees have led the push for Wi-Fi in their restaurants, credit card acceptance, a presence on social media, greater community involvement and longer hours. That last item was a big surprise to McDonald’s corporate management. Jim Johannesen, McDonald’s USA chief operating officer, is quoted in the article saying, "Our young people helped us understand that there’s a lot more going on when the rest of us are sleeping than we would have known".

The article is a fascinating look at how one of the most respected franchisors is preparing for the future–and is, in fact, already benefitting from its younger franchisees. We definitely recommend a read.