I want to start this article about 5 entrepreneurship lessons I gained working in Mcdonald’s with one of my favourite quotes by Steve Jobs “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
Sometimes you go through your journey in life and wonder of what use the experience is to your future.
It’s taking me a while to write this article, simply because I didn’t know how to put it in words and translate the journey to an experience that will encourage you. Sometimes we spend so long thinking about doing something and we never get around doing it. Some call it procrastination; I just call it pure laziness and excuses to not do.
I spent over 6 years in the UK for studies right after Secondary School in Nigeria. This is a really long story and as you may know I can talk for Africa, so I will try to keep it short and straight to the point. After spending a year supporting my aunty who I was living with at the time, she finally got me a job working with Mcdonalds (Brimsdown, Enfield London to be precise).
5 Entrepreneurship Lessons Working In McDonald’s
I wasn’t bothered what kind of job it was because I really wanted to start making money for myself and be fully independent. I mean with my parents paying for school fees, my focus was to secure an accommodation and be able to pay for everything else from transportation, to feeding, to bills and all.
And so the journey began. I started as a crew member on the till, taking orders and serving customers. One month after I won ‘Employee of the Month’, my employers had fallen in love with my personality, Bukky the hardworking smiler they called me.
Now, every Manager wanted me on their shift because I could handle pressure, was a team player, a smiler, customers loved me, I was close to a perfectionist meaning everywhere on my shift must be spotless when working.
This now brings me to the 5 entrepreneurial lessons I gained working for Mcdonalds. I will be narrating my story as I introduce these points;
1) Stay consistent:
I started working for mcdonalds in 2005. Despite the complaints from people who weren’t even working for McDonald’s at the time, who simply assumed it must be hard and challenging to work at the company. It made me want to experience it even more.
I had amazing colleagues who I worked with from different backgrounds; Chinese, Filipino, Gambian, Ghanian, Spanish, Parkistani and more. My managers also loved me.
I remained the hardworker everybody wanted to work with. I had started college in Enfield college at the time and also gotten a place of my own, so I had bills bills bills to pay for whilst studying as an A-level science (Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry) student.
One thing that helped me working at Mcdonalds was the flexibility of my shifts. I could work mornings or nights depending on my college time table.
I remained consistent working hard and I soon got promoted to a training squad (training new employees) less than a year working at Mcdonalds. I became the queen of the front and using tills.
One thing I loved working at McDonald’s was that they never took for granted workers who worked hard, so we always had a performance review every 6 months which came with a pay rise. I started with about £4 per hour and received an increase not sure exactly how much but about 0.60pence more.
Fast forward to now, as an entrepreneur, this has taught me to remain consistent. Someday those contracts that you have been chasing for so long will start looking for you instead.
2) Be teachable/Accept feedbacks:
I remember the first week I started, my till was short of £6, not sure how but I must have been giving customers extras without knowing. Every till at the time was given at £50 change. When my manager counted my till and told me my till was short, in fact he gave me a warning and I was in tears (lol) because I thought I was going to lose my job. I just needed to be careful next time he said.
I never got my till down ever again after that occurrence. I had now grown to 2 years working in mcdonalds, with 1 Store Manager, 2 Assistant Managers, 3 Shift Managers and 2 Floor Managers. You can imagine how many bosses I had to answer to. We also had external checks regularly, and if you were a chicken you won’t be able to handle working under pressure.
Chai! (woosh in English), I now started to realise what people had to say about working in McDonalds’s. I was still determined and wanted to become a shift manager someday.
So I gradually started to learn other parts of working in Mcdonalds; customer service/dining area, drive through, kitchen etc. I wanted higher pay, but I knew I could only get it by proving myself worthy of the pay.
Fast forward to now as an entrepreneur, this has taught me to accept feedbacks especially from potential customers. Even as a worker, accept feedbacks so you can improve.
3) Grow organically:
I bet you are wondering how I was able to handle working in McDonald’s and college. Trust me, it wasn’t easy so I had to stay focused and plan appropriately. I had managers who also understood and would always give me time off when I need to read. God was my main source of strength and favour.
Soon after, 2 years into working for Mcdonalds, I got promoted to a floor manager from a training squad. At this point, I knew how to do almost anything, I was a pro in the kitchen, I could run a shift on my own and I was firm with telling my colleagues what to do.
Another thing I loved about Mcdonalds is, as you got promoted, you were getting sent for a proper training. So I was sent for customer service training, leadership, business shift management training, first aid training, human resources training, crew and time management training.
Another year running as a floor manager, I got promoted to a shift manager. Finally, mission accomplished. I was also making over £7 per hour at the time.
The hardwork became real, I was a pro-opening manager meaning I had to be at the store latest by 4.15 am. As the store had to be opened to customers by 5.00am. I repeat, you can’t survive working in Mcdonald’s if you were a chicken!
This experience taught me that when starting out in business, as an entrepreneur it’s best to perfect your craft. In fact you need to at least know the problems you are solving and how best to relate the value you are rendering as a service to your potential customers. Once your potential customers perceive your value, converting them to patronize your business becomes easier.
There were various incentives to encourage the staff. We would receive gifts when we did well, bonuses as a team if our store won high marks for gap buster (external store checks for Quality, Service and Cleanliness). Every end of the year, we will have big parties and win gifts.
Loyal customers were never joked with. In fact the customers were so loyal that they would order the same thing all week long and it will be very rare if they changed their orders. So once we see a loyal customer driving through, we would order fresh food in advance to prepare their food and have it ready even before they walk in to place their order. This always left loyal customers happy and returning.
This has encouraged me as an entrepreneur to pay attention to my staff, send them for regular trainings and have incentives to make them love working for me. Also my customers are my biggest assets and I have to pay special attention to my loyal customers because they will preach about the brand first.
5) Less complains = More sales:
I remember whilst working for McDonalds, we would always benchmark how well a store did by how less the complaints we received in the month before how much sales increase we made. One key thing we were made to know is that once you have 1 unhappy customer, they are likely to tell 10 more people.
Also, we had a sales chart for the previous year on an hourly basis on the system which we would compare in sales to how well we did.
The phrase “Customers are always right” was overemphasized, and no matter how emotional a complaint got, customers were always right.
This experience has taught me in my entrepreneurship journey that the happier your customers the more money and patronage for your business.
I hope you have enjoyed reading through 5 entrepreneurship lessons I gained working in Mcdonald’s, because I struggled to shrink this gist all together. There are much more lessons I have learnt and I hope these few will impact you after reading this. One major one I really should have added is hospitality. Our key words in MacDonalds were ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’. This surely has helped me in life not just in my entrepreneurial journey.
I ended up working in Mcdonald’s for 6 good years 🙂
If you apply these lessons, you will see positive changes in your entrepreneurship journey.
Oh and by the way, the lady to my right in the picture above is Paulina Bazner from Poland. my favourite staff.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. If yes, please leave a comment below and share so that it can help someone out there.
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