This morning I drove my teenage son through Burger King (I know, I know. I am waiting for Children’s Service to arrive any minute now).
It was 10:05 AM, and my son wanted lunch. The fancy electronic menu showed only breakfast choices, so I asked: “Are you serving lunch?” The kid taking orders said, “No. We’re serving breakfast.” I said, “Sorry. My kid wants lunch so were going to go somewhere else.” Without delay, the order-taker asked, “What does he want?” I rattled all off the different things he wanted. The order-taker said, “No problem. We’ll make it for him.”
It took a few minutes to prepare his order while we waited at the drive-through window.
The total order came to $5.69.
The restaurant wasn’t prepared to serve lunch. It doesn’t matter what the profit margin is on the order, it isn’t enough for the restaurant to go to the trouble. What’s interesting is the culture in this Burger King.
It wasn’t the manager who agreed to make the order. It was an employee. I’ve seen people with far greater titles and far more responsibility with less decision-making authority. Somehow, this kid was empowered to make a decision to serve the customer, rules and breakfast be damned.
The kid at the window also recognized he had some responsibility to serve the customers, not just take their orders. He recognized he was going to lose a customer and asked what he could to change that. I told him, and he did what he needed to do.
The kid that took the order wasn’t at the window. It was a young girl. She smiled and said “Thank you” as she handed me the food-of-a-seriously-questionable-nutritional-value that my son had ordered.
Culture matters. Empowerment matters. Responsibility matters. This is noteworthy because the employees in this story make minimum wage (or something close to it). What then should be possible with higher paid, more experienced people?