I officially quit, what I hope to be, my last job in fast food and/or typical underpaid jobs and in honor of this momentous occasion I thought I would start a series of lists. 10 item lists that sum up an experience I’ve had. This one is 10 things I learned while working in fast food. This list is specifically geared towards the people behind the counter, most of them for cashiers specifically but I think that most of this list is applicable to any employee ever. I’ll probably make another list soon about being a customer.
10. You can’t do much to change management. If you hate your manager, tough sh*t because, unless you’ve got the luck of the Irish, that’s not changing soon. My store manager at every job I’ve had has been entitled and rude. Actually, the store manager at the job I just quit is quite literally the reason I quit. I do not mind if you think you’re entitled to be the boss just because you’re older than me but don’t act like we don’t work in the same place and you deserve more respect than I do. Management is one of those things that doesn’t shift much, if you really don’t like your managers but you need the job, don’t do anything to piss them off too much because they rule your fate when it comes to getting a raise or a promotion at another store, or in some cases they control if you can transfer to another store that might be closer to home.
9. Just do your job. Did someone ask you to go get some cups from the storage room? Just go get the d*mn cups, okay? Your supervisors do not want to be told no. They also don’t need you to be slow af. Just go in, do your job, and get out. Don’t offer to stay fifteen minutes late, unless you want your schedule to permanently change from 4:00pm to 4:15pm. Also, unless you want to be stuck opening every single day of your life stop offering to help out and pick up all those shifts for the sh*tty people who keep calling out. Now, if you don’t mind waking up at 4:00 in the morning, keep doing it. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut, help out while you’re on the clock, and get out.
8. Don’t stress about the things you can’t change. Sometimes a customer will get really mad that breakfast ended about twenty minutes ago. They might even ask to talk to your manager. If this happens, calm down. You can’t do a single thing about what time breakfast ends or the cost of a sandwich at your establishment. Also, if you work in a movie theater, don’t take it personally when people get mad over the price of a bucket of popcorn. One night I had to console a coworker who was bawling her eyes out in the storage room because a customer had been so rude. You can’t change the prices, you can’t change the menu, you also can’t magically make something that’s out of stock appear. People will get mad, people will try to intimidate you, but as long as you know you were as polite as you could be, don’t stress.
7. Smile. At MCD we had a pin on our visors that said something about smiling. At CFA we were always told to smile and nod politely whenever a customer is speaking directly to you. A smile when the customer comes up to the register can quite literally make their day, and by default, makes your store a better sale. If a customer is commenting on how tired you look, or asking if you’ve had a long day, fix the attitude. As an intermediary supervisor at a store I was constantly telling people to be upbeat and happy, it doesn’t matter to me that you’re tired because I’m tired too. And so is the cashier next to you. Unless you’ve got a d*mn good excuse no one wants to hear it.
6. CYA. If you don’t know what that means I’ll tell you, cover your *ss. Do you understand what I’m saying? Let me lay it out for you, you and a coworker are unloading the truck. You’re checking the invoice and it says you’re supposed to have ten boxes of napkins. You only got eight. You ask your coworker and they say not to worry, just sign the paper. You had better make sure that your coworker also sign the invoice so they can’t turn on you later and say ‘Well I wasn’t the one checking the invoice.’ If a customer is getting completely out of line make sure you call at least one other person over, management or otherwise, so you have two points of view if it comes down to a write up.
5. If you don’t know, ask. I cannot stress this enough. If you’re new and don’t know how something is done, ask for help. It takes me more time to fix your mistake than it does to show you how to do something. Also, I instantly judge the employees that can’t ask for help. I’m not an intimidating person but if you can’t ask me, ask someone around you. If you think your manager will laugh and call you an idiot just ask someone you feel comfortable around. Do not let sweet tea spill all over the floor and not do anything about it because ‘I didn’t know how to close the nozzle.’ *Literally tearing my hair out*
4. The customer is always right. If your location doesn’t stress this, I don’t know where you’re working. The customer is always right. If you’ve explained to them that refills are only free on large drinks and they insist they ordered a large meal and you explain that the cup they are trying to hand you is a medium do not bother causing a scene. Absolutely, talk to a supervisor, but don’t tell the customer no. The one thing that can affect your sales as much as a simple smile is the word ‘no.’
3. Be a team player. Sometimes it’s hard to work with other people. Sometimes you’re going to have to work with people you absolutely hate. You are never going to be lucky enough to be on a team of great individuals who never fight and never piss each other off, so get used to working with sh*tty people now. There’s always that one person who keeps showing up late, unless you’re a manager it’s not your job to worry about it, but do not be this person. Don’t be the person who calls to say ‘hey, sorry, but I can’t come in today’ and your shift started twenty minutes ago, no one likes working with an *ssh*le. Also, help out when you can, if your coworker can’t reach the top shelf and you can, take two seconds to help out, they appreciate not having to ask more than you know.
2. Don’t walk in pissed off/hungover. Walking into work already mad sets up the worst kind of day, not just for you but for your coworkers and your customers. Also, I don’t want to hear about how hungover you are. I’m not hungover, I knew I had to walk my happy *ss into work at 7:00am so I didn’t get black out drunk last night. You also knew you were scheduled to work so shut up and stop asking me to be quiet. If you’re mad, and you come in with the most pathetic attitude, I’ll try to get your mood back where it should be, because that’s part of being a team player. However, if the mood continues through the bulk of your shift, you shouldn’t have come to work in the first place
1. Learn how to effectively upsell. It took me almost four years of working in the fast food industry to throw an upsell into the conversation like it’s nothing. I know that it’s awkward to intentionally try to sell someone something that you might or might not like yourself, but once you do it things in your store will change. Sales increase by a noticeable amount when even one employee upsells effectively. It can be as simple as asking every person if they want a large meal for only fifty cents more. I’m always sure to include the price of the upsell, unless it’s unfavorable. Bacon is a dollar, I probably won’t disclose that unless you ask. However, making your fries large is only twenty cents so I’ll include that in a sale. You might feel like people get mad but they really don’t, it’s a simple yes or no sale. And if they do get mad, well, just smile and apologize, they’re probably having a sh*tty day. Also, if your boss tries to get you to do something ridiculous, like upsell milkshakes during the breakfast hours, laugh as you offer and the customer will probably tell you no, but at least they know that you know you sound like an idiot.
That’s it for the 10 things I learned while being a fast food employee. Until next time.