I *was* an assistant manager for a McDonald's Franchisee in Tucson, AZ from 2007 to 2008, and was hired with the explicit intention of being management and not a standard crew member. I worked hard in learning the procedures and processes of the corporation, with a goal of a much longer career than I actually had. My every day life evolved while I was there, starting from the least desirable position to overall operations. I wrote a blog detailing my experiences as well.
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I was never embarrassed about telling people I worked at McDonald's. I looked for this job, and in fact had to convince the Owner/Operator and his Operations Manager that I in fact wanted to work for McDonald's and was not just trying for any port in a storm. McDonald's is one of the most successful franchise operations in the world - providing growth and wealth opportunities to thousands of small business owners - in 2007 there were 33,000 stores and 60% of them were franchises. McDonald's is the second most recognized brand in the world, behind Coca-cola. McDonald's spends millions each year on innovating new products and refining existing products. They also spend millions each year on improving their processes and procedures, resulting in some of the finest business management and operations management training available. Quite frankly, a manager for McDonald's can get on the order of $15,000 worth of college education for free just for working there. Granted it's industry specific, but it's still there - through the various management training programs, all of which end are accredited. Many of the skills can be taken anywhere else - especially the focus on how to develop skills in others, the coaching process, and inventory management. I was quite proud of the achievements I made in the short and long term while working there, especially the achievements with people. Several of the people I worked with thought they had the world's worst, dead-end job. A job they were working as a bandage against destitution. I think i did a lot of work with many of those people, helping them see that even when you do something that you don't love, even if it doesn't pay you the best, you can turn it into a learning opportunity and take advantage of the chance to grow your own skills and personality. Several of the employees who were "slackers" when I first started working with them grew into dedicated and hardworking individuals after some guidance and coaching. I'm remarkably proud of that. I also taught (and learned) about diversity and helped develop (and gain) stronger interpersonal skills, working with people who were nothing like me for a common goal. That's another thing I'm proud of - helping turn the environment of my McDonald's into a short-term and long-term goal setting organization. In the store I worked at most, we went from being low-quality, poor customer service, high service times and in a matter of a few months, we had a much higher quality expectation (some of it being enforced by the "worst" staff members when I got there), we had sparkling customer service skills (even from some of the most hatchet-faced and unhappy suckers you ever met), and our speed of service was reduced significantly. I'm definitely proud of the role I played in helping make those things come around.
Thanks! You might also like my blog. It's been dead for a while, but I get tons of feedback (and way more hits than I ever thought I would, even to this day) from current McDonald's employees who want more advice. Currently I work for a multinational technology company that provides end-user, retail-style support to a variety of white-label partners in telecommunications, retail, and more. I was a technician for this company for a bit more than a year before advancing into a quality assurance role, which has a heavy focus on coaching and guiding technicians in policies and procedures. I was actually lucky enough to be able to help form the quality assurance department here, and have been a pivotal factor in guiding many people into successful execution of their roles in this corporation for 14 months now. As an aside, my eldest sister worked at Burger King for 2 years as a crew member before being made manager, then progressing to a store management position. While she's worked for Burger King off-and-on for a total of 20 years or so, she's also been district or regional management for a variety of businesses, including car dealerships, leather goods retailers, and clothing retailers. The only people who really "look down" on fast food experiences, especially management ones, are people who never worked it or who did work there but had a horrible experience - almost certainly due to their own efforts. It's my opinion that any experience can be a bad one if you try hard enough making it such.
In terms of hardest job: Grill. Totally the grill. You have to bust hump over two or four 440 degree planes of metal with grease steam billowing up at you non-stop. Not only that, you have to be sure you are keeping up exactly with the "levels", the expected volume of cooked, ready meat, at all times. You also need to be sure to keep your eyes on the temperature of the grills so they stay within appropriate boundaries, watch timers on the grills to be sure that you're cooking meat the appropriate time, make sure the meat appears to be cooked thoroughly, and several times a day take internal temperatures on meat. Along with this, in lower volume stores (this does *not* mean 'slow' stores, as they almost never exist), the grill person also has to prepare all the non-potato fried foods (primarily the many kinds of chicken and fish served). This is much worse at night when the store is staffed with fewer people, because the same person is then responsible for preparing the food, as well as making sure the work area is clean, sanitary, safe and stocked. Closing is the worst for this person, because the grill cleaning process is a horrible, steamy, fumey, smelly mess that irritates the hell out of your nose and eyes - then after all this they have to empty out large, thin grease traps. There's supposed to be a vacuum system to clean these out with, but they always seem to be broken more often than operational. In terms of the least demanding job (and therefore the job for the least capable): front cashier. This job is easy peasy most of the time, and the responsibilities are all light. This job is difficult only when the preparation of food and serving of it slows down because you can only take so many orders and stare at people waiting for so long - all the while being pretty much helpless to do much about it. Another time it's difficult is when a van load of kids comes in from a sport/outing and you have to serve 40 ice cream cones and sundaes in the course of 5 minutes.
This is a great question with a variety of answers because there are quite a few different types of "manager" in a McDonald's store. Generally all management members work about 35-40 hours a week - many more if they're salaried. There are two primary types of stores, Open/Close stores and 24-hours. I'll start with Open/Close stores. Between those, there are different volume levels an any of the roles might be filled by 2 or 4 managers - more at very high traffic stores (such as those at the center of metropolitan areas). I'll also give a bit of info about the responsibilities the different part managers have. Opening manager: General a "shift" or "swing" manager fills this role. They start around 4:30am as most stores open at 5am. They generally leave before the lunch rush starts - working until either 11 (if they work a 6 day week) or they may work until 1:30 or so when the real lunch rush ends. This may also be filled by a manager seeking less-than-full-time work - 4:30 to 11, 5 days a week. When another manager comes in, this manager generally rotates into the role of grill or kitchen manager until their shift ends. Breakfast manager: This might be a shift manager or the store manager. They generally will start about 6 or 6:30am, right in time for the big breakfast rush to begin. In stores with a heavier breakfast crowd, they may start right at opening time. Generally, they'll work until 2:30 or 3:00 and usually have the responsibility of running the whole operation for the morning through the end of lunch (about 2 in most stores). This manager is responsible for deliveries if they happen in mornings. Deliveries happen 5 times every 2 weeks in most stores. Mid-shift manager: These managers generally start right at "turnover" - or 10:30 for most stores. When breakfast becomes lunch everything needs to be run like a well oiled machine or havoc ensues. For some stores, this shift begins after the turnover, and right before lunch - at 11:30. These managers are generally swing managers who are less progressed through their training path, but are "Aces" at essentially all the positions and roles in a restaurant. One day they may be running the kitchen, the next they may be taking orders in drive thru, or cleaning up spills in the lobby. The midshift manager also generally will be responsible for the entire floor from 2:30 until the closing manager comes in, which is usually 3:30 or 4:00 - depending on when the store closes. Their shift will generally end at about 7:30 or 8, depending on when they began. The midshift manager also is usually responsible for deliveries if they are scheduled for afternoon/evenings. Again, this is usually 5 times every 2 weeks. Closing manager: The closing manager is usually a swing or shift manager. This manager will start at about 3:30 or 4pm. Most stores that close are open until midnight or 1am during summertime/weekends. After this there is about an hour of work needed to close the store down for the night. They've got to be well advanced in their career path because they're usually responsible for quite a bit and generally work with a reduced staff. Also, while each manager for all parts of the day is responsible for balancing the drawers worked during their shift, the closing manager has the added responsibility of totaling out the entire day's deposits. 24 hour stores: 24 hour stores have another manager that works from about 11pm or midnight until 7:30am or so. This is almost always a swing manager who is not advanced in their career path. Business is slow, there is little to do, and few responsibilities, while it allows them a bit of "down time" to study the copious material needed to be mastered to pass through the various (surprisingly rigorous) certification processes along the path of management. Keep in mind, the further up the chain you go, the more hours and responsibilities you're assigned. While a swing manager likely gets scheduled 35-38 hours a week and work 40, a shift manager will likely be scheduled for 40 hours and work 44 or so. An assistant manager (usually a shift manager) will be scheduled for 40-42 hours or so, and work 45. A store manager is almost always salaried and is expected to work a minimum of 40 hours, but might put in as much as 50. Beyond that there are usually District and Regional managers who are responsible for from 4 to 20 stores and might work 50-60 or even more hours for a salary. I've known several Owner/Operators (they own the franchise, operate the store under a license from McDonald's Corporate) who work 80 hour weeks - they also might make from $100,000 if they own just one store, to several million a year in profit with a huge slew of franchises.
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Falling Down is a great movie. Depending on what product was still fresh and servable, you could possibly get breakfast items a few minutes after "changeover". However, because of the precision of McDonald's "level" system, which dictates how much of each product is prepared per 15 or 30 minute time segment (based upon how long the food can "sit" while maintaining quality and safety), there rarely is food that was prepared and is still servable after the changeover period. These levels are based on historical sales, real world events and current traffic. To elaborate: At 10:15, with breakfast ending at 10:30, the last projected required sausage, biscuits and muffins would be prepared. At 10:20, the last projected required eggs, hashbrowns and ham are prepared. At 10:25, a quick clean of the grill is done, all the temperatures of the fryers are changed (hash browns and french fries cook at different temperatures for different times, as do the breakfast vs. lunch chicken products), the grill temperatures are changed (eggs and sausage are each cooked at different temperatures than burgers), and all of the "on hand" stock of breakfast items are switched out for "on hand" stock of lunch items (in small reach-in freezers/coolers). Also at this time, the holding cabinets (big cabinets that have many trays/racks with different temperature compartments and timers based on the product they hold) are set for all the lunch items, with usually just a few slots remaining for the last few projected required breakfast items. All of the breakfast breads - biscuits, muffins, bagels - will get pulled from the reach-in freezers will get moved to the walk-in freezers and bun stacks will be set up Also, immediately after this cleaning/temp changes are done, lunch food gets prepared. Burgers start getting made to fit projection/early lunch orders, chicken products (which generally take from 4 to 8 minutes to cook) are cooking, and fries (3m40s to 4m20s) are dropped into fryers. This is so that the appropriate projected level of product can be available as soon as we advertise that we're selling lunch products. ((Rereading this I've realized that apparently all this McDonald's talk, 4 years later, has reignited my sense of ownership. By "we" I mean "they".)) At 10:30, maybe 10:32, all breakfast items are "wasted" (that is: thrown out and accounted for), because they've generally reached a time that they are no longer fit for serving, either due to safety or quality concerns. If you're lucky right at the switch, at 10:30 on the nose, you might be able to get some of these last few breakfast items, but likely not. Again, those projection levels are really precise so there generally isn't much - if the store is well run and adheres to policies. So, the reason why McDonald's is such a stickler is that the same equipment is used to prepare both breakfast and lunch items, but at vastly different temperatures. Also, you can't very well make a batch of eggs then slap burgers down on that part of the grill, even if you could cook them at the same temperatures. It takes time to switch from being able to make breakfast foods to lunch foods. All of the condiments get switched out, they're made with vastly different products for the most part, and there simply isn't room to serve both simultaneously. So - either come in when they advertise that they're serving breakfast or eat lunch. Deal with it. I will add that many restaurants that serve breakfast all day, or lunch during breakfast have vastly different set-ups. They also serve half as many customers throughout the day as a McDonald's does, if they're lucky, so there *is* room to sell both all day, or to reserve a single grill and fryer just for breakfast food prep. Or their corporate office splits the difference on quality and determines that just because French fries shouldn't be cooked at 550 degrees like hash browns and french toast sticks are, doesn't mean you *can't*!
Most of this comes from coaching people. The process for coaching is to first identify the issue, then to explain the proper way to do something. This can be done very easily by simply taking them aside for a moment, without other crew or customers hearing and saying something like, "Hey, please remember to smile and be nice to the customers. Fake it if you have to!" The next part is to demonstrate the behavior - which means having that employee see you doing exactly what you explained. That may be passive by simply doing it and when they're around, or it can be active, "Hey, let me show you what I mean, go around that side of the counter for a minute" then demonstrate the expected behavior. Last is follow up. Catch the person doing it right later on, and give them feedback immediately in front of peers and customers when they're doing it right. The real reason so many people are grouchy in customer service positions is they get paid jack diddly squat. It's sad and stupid really, that most customer-facing positions in customer service enterprises pay between $7.25 and $10 an hour. That low wage translates to poor attitude, which translates to a lethargy about doing well, which itself turns into a lack of effort. Without effort, there's no growth and without growth there's nothing but a sense of stagnating in terrible, and if you're stagnating in terrible, how likely are you to engage the next stupid bleepy-bleep-of-a-bleep that walks up to you with their "Gimme a ..." BS? However, if the management team encourages trying hard, rewards it with praise, recognition, growth and more recognition, people will be willing to grow. I know for a fact that I turned at least 3 people who hated their jobs into motivated, hard working *team members* who took pride in their ability to do their jobs very well and even train and encourage others to do that job as well as they did - all without changing anything about the physical environment or the compensation for the job. It just took a change in attitude.
Absolutely. We closed early, but were absolutely open. There was one incident on Thanksgiving 2007 that stands out in my mind. A pair of limos pull up to the front of the store. Out comes a massive family - at least 20 people all looking alike (you could tell it was family), about 4 generations worth. The least fancily dressed person was a man in dress pants, a really nice sweater and a dress shirt underneath - all the other men were in suit and tie, the women in nice dresses with their hair done up. They came in and had Thanksgiving dinner in their fancy attire. Totaled out to about $250. It was kind of strange. None of them giggled like it was funny or a joke, and they said grace.
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