I LOVE McDonald’s.
I have spent a lot of time in McDonald’s restaurants, talking to managers, owner-operators, customers, working to understand their process and what they thought could improve, and I even spent a day behind the counter, learning to make sandwiches. And I bet you are wondering, “why are you hanging out in McDonald’s restaurants?” Actually when I tell people this, most don’t ask me why but just want to tell me that they hate McDonald’s. I tend to get a little defensive. (ok, maybe a lot)
It all started when Curtis presented his keynote for a regional leadership conference geared toward in-store managers and what followed was incredible. Managers grabbed on to the Life at Performance Level® metaphor and the idea of Living the DREAM, embracing an attitude of gratitude unlike most groups. I became intrigued in learning more and finding ways that we as a company could help. So I began my own style of market research- go to the restaurant and ask a lot of questions.
But, as interested I was to find out about all the many ingredients that go into McDonald’s huge menu—seriously, you should see all the charts they have in the back for all the different sandwiches they offer—nothing could have prepared me for the great emotion that I felt from the employees.
There were some employees that loved McDonald’s so much that it really touched me. McDonald’s was a second family to them or it provided them the energy and challenge of the fast-paced environment or it had been the only job they’d ever known as they’d gone from crew to manager to department head to owner over decades of service.
Despite all the bashing we hear, there are plenty of reasons to love McDonald’s–and they have little to do with the food. Through my time spent researching, the brand changed from brick and mortar, from bad media headlines to heart and soul. I now love McDonald’s because I have grown to love the people I have met who make it work day to day and are so committed and joyous in their career there.
Since then, I have spent the last 2 ½ years developing an in-store leadership/employee engagement program for McDonald’s – including an online learning course, motivational posters, buttons, stickers and other products for inside the restaurant, as well as an interactive video and text messaging series. I have learned so much about the “black eyed” fast food chain and became so impressed with the people who make it run everyday.
It made me wonder, how do I as a company owner foster that kind of loyalty and brand love? And what I learned from McDonald’s is this: create an environment where people know they have the opportunity to grow—make it known that this can be a ten, 20, or lifelong working relationship. Give them the training they need, not just for the job they have now, but the positions they will fill in the future. And above all, give them something to love, whether that be the energy, the community, or just the project.
It also made me realize how I had misjudged McDonald’s and blindly believed all the bad media hype. Through my journey to learn more I discovered that the information about McDonald’s “unhealthy” food actually is not true and that I was a victim of the media buzz and internet gossip.
Judge me if you want but I love McDonald’s – inside and out!