It’s amazing how volume can cover a lot of sins.
A lesson I learned early on, thanks to my years at McDonald’s, is that when a business is busy, it’s amazing how many problems simply get glossed over.
Ultimately, though, a lot of profit gets lost.
As a 19-year old college student, I found myself managing the 2nd highest volume McDonald’s in the world. (You’ll never guess, so I will tell you: Fairbanks Alaska, 1975).
The McDonald’s I was at was doing 5x the business of an average McDonald’s. Yes, it was a challenge keeping things going, because it was so crazy! In fact, I’d call it insane, considering the location and considering the Alyeska Pipeline was being built at that time too.
One of the many leadership lessons I learned during my time in Alaska was how volume covered up major sins. Because we were doing so much business, there wasn’t the need to ensure controls were 100% accurate. If our food costs were a little out of line or labor a little off, it simply got buried in the overall size of the business.
The level of profit McDonald’s was able to generate in all of their locations in Alaska was amazing, due to the volume. When I returned to manage McDonald’s in the Seattle area, I had to ensure everything ran perfect. If we wanted to make a profit, there was zero room for error.
I quickly learned it was far easier to manage a high-volume McDonald’s than it was to manage an average or low-volume unit.
Amazing how lessons learned at a McDonald’s 35 years ago have stuck with me.
It’s also amazing how I’m seeing replays of it today. I see businesses doing great. They’re making money, but their volume is covering up major sins.
If you’re fortunate to have a business doing well, I can’t implore you enough to be careful. The volume is likely compelling you to overlook key areas. The key areas might be cost controls or business growth (or maybe both!).
Take a quick lesson from me – The only leadership approach you can take when things are good is the same one you take when things are slow. Focus on controlling costs while also focusing on maximizing sales.
Now if you’re wondering how I feel about McDonald’s, I love the company. I’m proud to have spent six years with them. During that time, I learned more about leadership and business and what it takes to succeed than in any other six-year period of my business career. To this day, some of the people who had the greatest impact on my life were those I had the privilege to work with while at McDonald’s.
Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.
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