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Serving More Than Just Burgers: 5 Transformative Lessons from the McDonald’s Hospitality World


6th May 2024 | 8 Views

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Fresh out of college in 2016, I landed a job at a respected company. The initial excitement quickly faded as I realized the stark difference between college and the real world.

Within the first month, I felt the urge to quit!

The demanding work environment and low pay made me question if this was the right fit. Surprisingly, I stuck it out for a year and a half!

This might make you wonder: what industry is known for long hours and low wages?

That industry is the hospitality sector.  

In particular, I was working as a management trainee at McDonald’s

The fast-paced nature of the job and the high expectations from management were constant sources of stress. Despite the difficulties, I persevered and gained valuable skills in customer service and time management.

There are lessons that I want to convey in this article. 

Hopefully, at the end of the article, you have already gained some beneficial insight.

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Lesson No. 1: Never take things personally.

Anyone who’s worked in retail or hospitality knows the struggle of dealing with difficult customers. To add fuel to the fire, you should expect a rough ride if the same customer lodges a complaint twice. I was one of those unfortunate employees who had to deal with such an awful scenario. But that’s not the worst part; a frustrated customer even called my area manager to complain about me. Situations like this can be depressing and possibly have an impact on your sense of worth. However, one of our company’s senior managers taught me a valuable lesson related to customer complaints. 

During a training session, he clarified that a customer’s complaints are a reflection of their dissatisfaction with your employment position rather than a personal grudge.

Although I didn’t instantly adopt this approach, I finally accepted it and stopped taking those complaints personally.  

But after leaving the hospitality industry, I realized that there are customers in the form of clients, stakeholders, and even managers. 

This insightful advice has been helpful to me all my life.

Lesson No. 2: You Need to Discipline Employees

Being a manager at a restaurant is challenging, but it becomes even more difficult if you lack assertiveness and are introverted. I’ve never been the type of manager who shouts or scolds staff members; I just never thought it was necessary. Unfortunately, my lack of assertiveness led to the team not following my direction or scheduling. There was ultimately no going back because my team had already formed an opinion of me in their heads, and it would disappoint them to have that opinion changed.

I came to see that my desire to be a ‘cool boss’ sprang from my tendency to be a “people pleaser.” 

The manager must correct an employee who exhibits poor behavior; nevertheless, if the employee’s actions don’t change, you may want to consider dismissing them.

In the words of the late Robert Louis Stevenson“You have to break a few eggs if you want to make an omelet.”

Lesson No. 3: The Importance of Profit Margins When Choosing a Career

I had the misconception that all industries paid the same amount before I chose my first job. But once again, reality strikes. Generally, the restaurant business has low profit margins. To understand profit margins better, let me illustrate with an example: 

Let’s say a restaurant makes a revenue of Rs. 1 lakh per month. From that money, they spend about Rs. 30,000 on utilities, Rs. 20,000 on groceries, and Rs. 20,000 on rent. Now the owner has only 30,000 left, and he has to pay salaries to the employees. 

As you can see, the majority of revenue is allocated to other costs, leaving a small portion for remuneration. 

But the same is not the case for other industries like IT and banking, as they provide handsome compensation for their employees.

Aside from the misconception regarding equal compensation, the corporations did a remarkable job of “selling” their job titles. The speed at which one can “grow” was their primary “hook.” This leads me to my fourth lesson.

Lesson No. 4: Talk to Current Employees Before Commitment 

What do I mean by ‘selling’ job titles? It indicates that the organization makes a great effort to market its jobs as the greatest in the world. In my case, they promised us an accelerated career trajectory. As mentioned earlier, the fast-food industry has low profit margins, and even a manager may not get paid the same salary as a programmer.

Even though the organization is merely trying to draw in the greatest talent, you should be cautious of these kinds of marketing tactics. To understand what the job is actually like, it’s imperative to connect with existing employees. Talk with employees who had an early exit from the job. While this strategy may seem counterintuitive, understanding their reason for exit can help you comprehend if you want to work in such an organization.

Lesson No. 5: Teamwork is Dreamwork

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” 

With five MVPs, 11 All-NBA selections, and, most importantly, six championships, Michael Jordan is arguably one of the best basketball players of all time. But he couldn’t win all six championships on his own. He needed a good team that could complement his abilities. 

Working in a fast-food restaurant follows the same reasoning. I can’t accomplish the goals by myself as a manager. A driven staff that can help me is what I need. I assign each person to roles that best suit their abilities. My error while at work caused me to improperly assign tasks to employees, which decreased customer pleasure. I would handle some things by myself, even as a manager. I learnt the hard way that Micromanaging tasks proved ineffective. A prosperous restaurant depends on hiring and training employees.

In conclusion

Even though the fast-food industry wasn’t the perfect fit, it taught me valuable resilience that will benefit me in the long run.

Hope you take away something valuable from this article!

Rahul Bhuyan



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