I am not loving it

Over the weekend I spent the afternoon at Enchanted kingdom to celebrate my daughter's 6th birthday. She was looking forward to it since Christmas morning. And she especially woke up at 4AM to meet the day head on. More updates on that trip wil be posted. But first, I must really put on record on what I detest most about how the service industry is like in Manila.  product of a long line of patronage, the final straw came in the form of a local branch on the South Super Highway.

Let us lay thr groundwork for this rant. My first job as a wee lad in high school was at the local McDonald's on Quezon Avenue. Store 008 was what it was designated as my workplace. I took the job because back then McDonalds was new. And it helped augment my allowance. It was my first taste at independence, as I was earning my own money for the first time in my life. It was also at McDonalds where my hands dove straight into the frigid waters of potato peels and rehydrated onions and enter into the hospitality business. During the Orientation, we were briefed on company policies, the survival skills, and given our brand new uniforms. it was a maroon number, with a headband with visor. It didn't matter how itchy the polyester material was riding up my ass, or how the visor gave me headaches, but I felt proud. I felt good to be a part of something bigger. A part of a precision machine that flew all the way from the U.S. to make their magic here.

The training was handled by a young woman by the name of Michelle, who led us on a three month training program covering all aspects of the McDonald's restaurant. Counter service. Lobby service. Drive-Thru. And eventually, kitchen production. Everything was systematic. Everything was mapped out. Little was left to chance. All policies and procedures were precise. Deliberate. 1 minute to service each customer, 30 seconds for drive-thru. What stuck to me was the service sequence, and it served as my foundation for getting into the service industry:

  1. Greet the guest
  2. Take the order
  3. Suggestive and upselling
  4. Serve the guest
  5. Present the bill
  6. Thank the guest

This has served as a basis or foundation for every service related transaction I have experienced in my professional life. Certain variations apply, adapted to diffrerent situations, but all lead to the same  goal: guest satisfaction.

Unfortunately, years later it does not seem to be the case. Going to several McDonald's over the years, I have the noticed the downward spiral of the once mighty QSCV philosophy of which the great fastfood chain was known for. Inconsistency reigns supreme. With the average check matching those of some full service restaurants, you would expect the service quality to still be at an acceptable level. It is not the case recently. The service sequence is not followed to the letter, for example. Getting to the different branches allowed me to develop a consensus. Different locations, different sets of employees, throughout the year. And they all have the same common flaws which have widened the gap between guest satisfaction and mediocrity:

Suggestive and upselling is not de rigeur anymore - the counter staff do not read customers anymore, and therefore do not make an effort of matching the right product. Guests just order up what they want, but not knowing any better that there is something more. It seems that staff are now just going through every transaction mechanically. If an item is not available, they just say 'Sorry, not available.' and that's it. Would not take the initiative to suggest something else, adding to the wait time. Just stare t the gueast, willing him to move away.

Service time - the average time a guest spends to get an order in is about 3.4 minutes average. That is a lot of time to stand in line for a measly burger that does not look anything like the photographs plastered all over the menu board. they don't use back up staff to assemble the orders anymore. The people who handle the money are the same people reaching their grubby hands into the warming bin and the french fry station. I do not know how an order taker outside on the lobby by the lines would speed up service. Evidently it is not working. Thank God they got rid of the screeching greetings.

Cleanliness - the bathroom is the one benchmark guests can gauge the sanitation practices of the restaurant. And McDonald's has been consistent about this, but in the wrong way. It is usually wet inside. No basic amenities. Facilities are in a state of repair. In another face of the restaurant, the lobby is always littered with trays, paper, cups, spills and whatnot. Not very attractive. And this is during down time.

Kid friendliness - Or the lack of it. My kid's favorite haunts had the playplaces removed. This is disappointing, since the restaurant thrives on family patronage. The playplaces give another sense of wonderment for kids. And removing them just loses some of the magic. No more paper mats for kids to color and doodle on. No LSMs attending to their distractions. The Birthday parties have a host who thinks that screaming the events makes it more lively. The Mascot costumes are filthy.

Product line up - The Bigmac is not as good as it used to be. They have removed the shakes. The apple pie is half the size and quality than what it used to be.They expect the guest to make full use of tablespoon of gravy for their chicken order. Condiments are sold separately. The Butter isn't whipped anymore. Happy meal boxes that allow construction by young minds are replaced with non-biodegradable plastic.

Identity - Is it stilll a place to have fun, both young and old alike? Do we associate the golden arches with a good meal? Isn't there anything better? Maybe the Bee has something on them.

Most guests do not know these things or the differences. They do not know any better. Ironically, more restaurants are popping up everyday around the metro, yet McDonald's still holds true to what they think is best. It is starting to be not the restaurant it used to be, but as an empty commercial shell that wants to sell cheap looking burgers and useless toys. I am not  loving it anymore.

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