So Secret, Even McDonald’s Doesn’t Know Them Anymore!

Once, I worked at McDonald’s. I was a teenager, what can I say? Maybe a lot of you did, too. If your teenage years are a bit dim in the rear-view mirror, maybe you were trained back when McDonald’s seemed to strive for excellence in customer service, much more than they do now. (New sign at my local store: 90 second guarantee AFTER placing order, ONLY during breakfast and lunch rush. My memory isn’t so dim that I can’t recall we were always supposed to go from order to serve in less than thirty seconds, way back when. Eeek. Some promise.)

In fact my memory of McDonald’s work is not dim at all. I was impressed with how they codified everything my mother wanted out of me at home (they paid better than Mom to get the work out of me, and I wanted the money). If there’s just one secret, you who want to get more out of yourself and your staff, it’s this: Do what would make your Mom proud.

That just won’t cut it, ‘cause I promised you a list of seven. Herewith:

7 Top-Secret Secrets of McDonald’s Customer Experience

1. Procedures are everything. Read more on this here.

2. Clean is everything else.

3. The customer pays your salary. They’re not always right, but they must always be happy with their Experience, to pay your salary again tomorrow. Delighted is preferable. Exceed expectations.

4. Never stand around. If you aren’t actively helping a current customer, clean something or fill something—you’re helping a future customer. This is not the same as “look busy.”

5. Keep your eyes open. Imagine the customer’s Experience, then imagine improving it. This will give you a mental task list for those times when you are in danger of violating #3. Don’t leave the straw wrapper for Joe to pick up. Be picky.

6. Word to live by: Respect (customers, management, coworkers); hustle; anticipate needs. (That last one works great for Valentine’s Day, too.) then no one will ever tell you what to do… or if they do, you can (respectfully) say you already did.

7. This may not be your ideal career, but it is your current one. A ditchdigger’s work is as fine as any mogul’s if he’s doing his very best. Take pride in your work. You’re being judged by it, right now.

Oh, I was an overachiever, for sure. I didn’t just want the regular money, I wanted that really good management money, and I got it, too. (Big wup, I hear you say.)

I sort of knew these things before I got there, and that made their job easier. (Keep this in mind when you’re hiring.) McDonald’s said them out loud, and once built their clean, mass-produced, groupthink utopia on these “secrets.” You don’t need groupthink utopia to achieve Maximum Customer Experience, but reinforcing these secrets with staff will elevate you in customers’ minds almost immediately. Just think for a moment, about what a rarity clean has become. It’s nearly a competitive edge.

Share a moment from your McPast… what’s the Secret that’s stayed with you all these few-or-many years? What lesson did your minimum-wage beginnings teach you about growing your business with Maximum Customer Experience?

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson