Visiting a customer in St. Petersburg on a very hot day, I wrapped up the meeting and headed to lunch. Nearby was one my all time favorite (ATF) joints, Taco Bell. Now Taco Bell has engaged in a pretty significant recapitalization of their stores – they have a great new look, an easy to read menu, and day-glo Diet Mountain Dew. I entered and the store was cool and inviting, and between my glee at a great visit and a bit of an appetite, I surrendered to the joy of the moment.
“I love Taco Bell!” I said, kind of to no one but maybe to the young lady working the counter. She looked at me like I was nuts.“Don’t you?”“No.” she said.“Oh.” Pause. I didn’t know what to do with this.“Not even the food?”“No.”“So this is just a job?”Silence.
Of course I can’t know what else was happening in this person’s life, and frankly it would take loads more than this to put me off Taco Bell, but it did have me thinking about the challenges of retail management, not just in QSR but everywhere. Man, is that a hard job. Recruiting and retaining employees is an ongoing challenge, as turnover is hellacious. New tech requires more training, new menu items require more training, and with a really robust labor market, wages and hours have to be really competitive. Some of that is driven by corporate and out of anyone’s control.
At this store, there appeared to be a manager who was really hustling to make things work, from fixing a mistaken order to providing instruction to one of the food preparers. And yet an utterly passionless team member was how customers were greeted.
At Flonomics we believe that engaging employees with clear expectations, training and education, and opportunities for growth are the key to retention. Invest in your employees and they will engage with you as a manager and company. Don’t, and you probably get team members who don’t love the place where they work.