It Can’t Be This Hard
Today is September 21st. Peace Day. More on that in a moment. But to answer the famous question, “Can’t we all just get along?” The answer is no.
Take this recent story headline from Associated Press: “Burger King to McDonalds: Let’s make a McWhopper.” Full page ads in various newspapers carried the message. A one day truce it was called. For the betterment of mankind, of course.
Burger King was attempting to get a cooperative effort with the “Golden Arches” folk to build a unique combination of a Whopper and a Big Mac. But only for a day. Peace Day.
As the AP story goes, “Burger King is tying the publicity stunt to a nonprofit called Peace One Day, which says it promotes Peace Day. The United Nations created the International Day of Peace in 1981 to coincide with its annual opening session in September. It then designated September 21 as the annual ‘day of non-violence and cease-fire’ in 2001.”
Call it a noble act. Call it promotional gimmickry. Ronald McDonald is not interested in such peace efforts. Ronald may smile at the kids, but not at the competition. Their CEO Steve Easterbrook in responding with a “no way” message, belittled the effort of burger war peace compared to “the real pain and suffering of war.” He then added, “P.S., simple phone call will do next time.” Put that in your Whopper and chew on it for a while. C’mon, man!
Well, I’m in a different kind of battle with the fast food giants. One that pleads for simple, friendly customer service and the basics in operating a restaurant. Allow me to share several examples.
At the McDonald’s I frequently stop at on my way home when my wife is out, most employees give me no welcome greeting. When I pick up my food, no “thank you.” At the Wendy’s near my office, the ketchup containers have been empty twice during the lunch hours I visited. And they were out of napkins. Hello…it’s lunch time. At Culver’s drive through, my last three meals came with no napkins. And the latest: on Friday night, my wife had a hankering for KFC grilled chicken. It was during the dinner hours but none was available. They were cooking it. Instead of serving it.
One of my favorites on this list happened a week or so ago taking our granddaughter to IKEA. They served up chicken fingers which yearned for barbecue sauce. Except… there wasn’t any. Inquiring at the counter I was told they’ve been out for a few days. My problem solving went into gear and I suggested that since a Meijer grocery story was two blocks away, maybe they could simply go and buy some until their shipment arrived so as not to disappoint customers. The young woman thought that was a good idea.
Aside from the expected reaction that “Mark, fast food isn’t very good for you anyway” I wish to affirm two companies who seem to get it right the majority of the time. One is Chick Fil A. Their folks go out of their way to make sure I have what I need. And the tireless service motto that they own is, “My pleasure.”
The second high energy, high service minded company is In-N-Out Burger. Mainly located in California, they are a fan favorite and outperform their competitors in serving up burgers and fries. They also are the ones who imprint Bible verse references on their cups and fry containers.
And so it begs the question… how can these two companies do it right so consistently? I believe it is based on a passion for the customer. Yes, you have to have food that people enjoy. All of the fast food companies lay claim to that. But not all can lay claim to placing such emphasis on customer care.
For the record, my father managed several different Perkins restaurants during my growing up years. I worked in all but one. At peak times, customer care can be a real challenge. If it’s your mission, however, you finesse it as needed.
I believe most people want to be treated well. They enjoy being respected when spending their hard earned money for a meal. They respond to people who care.
Jesus of Nazareth advised us this way,
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
– (Luke 7:12 NASB)
Do this, Ronald McDonald, and everyone will enjoy a happy meal.
P.S.: My apologies to any franchise owners or managers who want their employees to serve better.
Originally posted on MarkElfstrand.blogspot.com.