When you think of McDonald’s, what comes to mind? Is it the quick service? Or the friendly employees? Or is it the delicious food? For me, the answer is all of the above. I recently had the opportunity to get into a restaurant and be a crew member for a day. I was interested to find that numerous celebrities and top business leaders have worked at McDonald’s early in their careers as well. From the crew member training to the excellent customer service, I got to see firsthand how folks behind the counter set McDonald’s apart from the competition.
Simply put, I was blown away by how much I learned.
Training Crew Members
When new crew members are hired, they are all trained using the same process. This way, they all have the same knowledge of how the restaurant operates and what they need to do to drive success.
The entire training method focuses on keeping up with McDonald’s Gold Quality Standards. The company has a specific way that each item on the menu should be prepared and how it should look when presented to the customer. If you ever wonder why your McCafé Frappe always has the same amount of whipped cream and chocolate drizzle, you have the Gold Quality Standards to thank.
While I was there, I got to go through the training myself. The first part involved watching a series of videos and taking quizzes on different topics, including: how to prepare different products, machine orientations, food safety, and drive-thru operations. After the classroom education portion of my training, I received hands-on training in the drive-thru and front counter of the restaurant. The training process was extremely helpful in that I was able to clearly understand what was going on in the restaurant after going through the computer training.
The Small Details of Training Make a Big Difference
The training also includes information on small parts of the business. For example, when bagging a meal, napkins and straws always need to be placed at the bottom. Boxed products are next, followed by wrapped items. Also, fries always need to be placed in an upright position to avoid spilling. An added bonus is that it makes it easier for customers to snag a fry out of the bag as you’re pulling away from the drive-thru.
After learning this, I thought back to my past meals from McDonald’s. Sure enough, no matter which McDonald’s restaurant, everything is packaged in the same way. The most important takeaway from my training was that McDonald’s has a process for literally everything that goes into making customers happy. The training does a great job of making sure every crew member knows exactly what these processes are and how to execute them.
Why does breakfast end at 10:30am?
As any McDonald’s breakfast lover would know, breakfast is only served until 10:30am. As a customer, I had always wondered how the crew members could transition from serving breakfast to lunch so quickly. It was also a common complaint among drive-thru customers that breakfast was no longer available a minute after 10:30am. After working in a restaurant, it was easy to understand why breakfast has a hard stop at 10:30am.The grill cooking temperature is different for eggs and hotcakes than it is for burgers or chicken. In addition, employees need time to transition themselves and the restaurant equipment. The entire transition process took no longer than fifteen minutes. Crew members work so quickly that breakfast is long gone and it is onto lunch by 10:35am each day. This can be attributed to the extensive training that every employee goes through.
Happy Crew Members
While observing and talking to crew members, I expected to experience what the public refers to as “Hamburger Flipper” type work. However, people seem to have gotten it all wrong. The crew members work very hard but have fun in the process and are proud of what they do. Everything crew members do comes down to serving the needs of customers.
Before coming to McDonald’s, one crew member I met had a job as a crew member with a competitor. When I asked her to compare her experiences, she said that her previous job could not compare to her experience with McDonald’s. When I asked her what sets McDonald’s apart, she said that McDonald’s has better processes in place for serving customers. In addition, she said that the people she works with, co-workers and management included, make her job enjoyable. All of the employees I had conversations with said the same thing: the people around them make their jobs worthwhile.
To keep employees motivated, managers rate them in all areas of the restaurant. Employee ratings are updated twice a year, and shift coverage is decided based in part by these ratings. If a crew member is most successful in the drive-thru rather than the front counter, then he or she will work in the drive-thru most often. This is another way that McDonald’s makes sure customers are served as quickly as possible and their orders are accurate.
How does the drive-thru work?
Since drive-thru is where the bulk of business is done, managers monitor how long it takes from the time a customer places an order to the time they receive it. On average, the managers at this restaurant set a goal to have each customer taken care of within 90 seconds from the time the customer places their order to the time they get their food.
After the food is prepared, the person responsible for presenting the completed order to the customer ensures accuracy. I spent the most of my day at the drive-thru. Of the hundreds of orders that came through, I did not see more than one complaint regarding order accuracy. This goes to show just how perfected of a process McDonald’s has in place to keep their customers happy.
My Conversations with Management
When I sat down with the restaurant’s General Manager, Linda Sailor, she said that the thing she is most proud of in her work is the low employee turnover in her restaurant. That shows her that she is providing a good work environment that keeps her employees happy and motivated toward the restaurant’s success.
To keep everyone up to speed on what’s going on, managers have weekly meetings and crew members have “shift huddles” to discuss what’s new on that particular day or additional things they may need to do.
I also had a chance to sit down with Greg Schwarting, the Owner/Operator for a few restaurants in the Orland Park area. I was very curious about what he does, as I had never learned much about an Owner/Operator’s role before. Owner/Operators make important business decisions regarding equipment, employees, and products. These decisions play a huge role in driving the success of the business. In addition, so many people want to own McDonald’s restaurants, so the competition is high. Obviously, McDonald’s Owner/Operators feel a huge amount of pressure to perform.
Working in the restaurant for the day provided me with an eye-opening experience of how McDonald’s business runs. I gained a great appreciation and understanding for why things run the way they do and all of the ways that McDonald’s crew members and staff support the brand as a whole.