I finally have time to relax a bit this evening after what turned out to be a good day at work, and to write my blog post for "Write A Letter Wednesday" (or Thursday as the case may be)...
Dear Food Service Worker,
I admire the fact that you are young, and are working at a job instead of just hanging out and expecting your parents to provide you with everything including spending money. Not only are you learning how good it feels to have your own paycheck, but you are learning good lessons about how to get a job and keep it, lessons that will serve you well in your future years. I also hope that working at a minimum wage job will help motivate you to stay in school and plan for a career, so that you won't have to spend the rest of your life working at a job that involves a lots of work for low pay.
I enjoy being greeted at the counter or the drive-thru window by fresh young faces, especially when they are smiling and include a friendly greeting. A smile can make all the difference to a customer's day. It pleases me if you comment on my pretty nails, or my husband's cool tattoo. It means you noticed me, and not just as another number waiting to be served.
There are a few things I wish you'd consider though, and maybe work a little harder on...
The first rule of employment is to show up when scheduled, on time, dressed appropriately, and definitely not looking like you stayed out late partying the night before. Make sure your uniform is clean and neat, and your hair combed. Don't go crazy with the makeup... you want someone to focus on your smile, not the raccoon rings around your eyes! Showing up on time is not only a good practice of self-discipline, it also makes life much easier for your employer, and the experience a whole lot better for customers who aren't waiting endlessly because you didn't show up, or called in running an hour late. Plan ahead, use and alarm clock, leave home early!
When you greet customers, be friendly, and visit a little if you like, but please don't call me "Dearie" or "Sweetie" just because I'm old enough to be your grandma. Ma'am is just fine with me, and for all you know I'm not truly that sweet! :-) Remember that please and thank-you are still the magic words!
When taking orders or assisting customers in any way... PAY ATTENTION! Listen to what they are saying. Repeat their order back to them. Ask questions if you aren't sure you got it right. It saves much aggravation and decreases customer complaints. That reflects back on you!
If you are giving customers their orders, and this is especially true at the drive-thru window... MAKE SURE everything they paid for is included in the bag, that the items are correct, and that flatware and condiments are offered/included so they don't end up eating with their fingers and wiping their mouths on their sleeves! :-)
The number one complaint I have and hear from friends and co-workers is getting home or back to the job to discover missing food items or incorrect items. This seems to be so prevalent that I am often forced to go thru the entire bag to check the order before pulling away from the window, and I find errors even after being assured by the service worker that "Yup, everything is in there." I know for you it's a case of car out of sight, out of mind. For me it means arriving at work with an assortment of breakfast items ordered by coworkers only to discover that Joe didn't get his sausage biscuit, or Sally got cheese on hers and she's allergic to cheese. It's frustrating and embarrassing and I rarely have the time to return to your fast food establishment to get it corrected. It only takes a couple minutes to check the order against what's in the bag, people!
PLEASE don't grumble to customers about your supervisor, coworkers, duties, hours, or pay. There's a proper place to register your complaints. It's a very bad practice to tell customers how unhappy you are with your work situation. I assure you they won't be impressed, and odds are one of them knows the supervisor or the boss and will be happy to pass that information on!
One more thing that should be obvious, but apparently isn't... Your boss is paying you, not for your presence, but to do a job. When you're on the clock, your time is his/her time, and not your own. This means PUT THE CELL PHONE and the IPOD AWAY! Don't be so tuned into your tunes that you don't make eye contact with me, or be arguing with your boyfriend on the phone so that you're too distracted to serve me. Save that for break time. Save the yelling back and forth at each other and colorful language for in the back too. We don't want to hear it!
Be helpful! If there's trash on a counter or the floor, pick it up! If a customer needs assistance with a door or the drink machine, offer to help! And don't roll your eyes while doing it! Even when you don't think we notice, we do. Don't talk about us while we're within earshot, and we promise not to comment on your facial piercings or the holes in your ears until we've walked out the door. Then we ALL can roll our eyes! :-)
Lastly, if you're in a position where tipping is customary, remember that an upbeat attitude and checking on your customer now and then to see if they need anything, makes all the difference in the customer's experience... and in your tip. I know you are super-busy during rush hours, and by the end of a long shift you're tired and your feet hurt. A fair customer will acknowledge when you are doing your best inspite of those circumstances. Just don't use it as an excuse to be short, irritable, or unreasonably slow.
If you put your heart into your job, your customers will appreciate you, your boss will take notice, AND you'll feel good about yourself! The secret to life isn't always doing great things, but in doing small things with attention and care.
Remember too, that this entry-level job you're working is the first of many references you'll need for future jobs along the way. Keep your cool, resolve problems with your supervisor, be dependable, hang in there, and never walk off the job in a huff! If it's truly an unhappy situation for you, give two weeks notice of your intent to quit... and if you're smart, you'll have another job lined up first. Think it over carefully before you decide to go. Jobs aren't easy to come by, and I assure you that there is no such thing as a perfect workplace!
We all had to start somewhere, usually in the lowliest of of jobs, but you can use your job as an opportunity to be of service, and to brighten other people's lives while you're there. As the saying goes... bloom where you are planted! Who knows, you just might do a little growing too! :-)
Thanks for listening to me rant, now PLEASE listen to my order and try to get it right!
The "Sweet Ol' Lady" that you serve several mornings each week :-)