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As I’ve gotten older, I have tried to curtail my consumption of fast food. I’m aware that the fat content, calorie counts and general nutrition levels are not the healthiest available. I know that as we age, we should watch our cholesterol, our weight and make sure that we eat healthy. I also know that my diet will directly contribute to the length and quality of my life. With all that being said, I love fast food. I am usually pretty good at keeping a balance of healthy eating and not-so-healthy eating, but sometimes I just want something that comes quickly and cheaply even though it may not be the best thing for me.
I recently decided to partake in some fast food in spite of the long-term potential health consequences. As I was standing in line reading the menu, I was watching the processes behind the counter. This particular restaurant was moving like a choreographed dance recital. It appeared that each person clearly understood his or her purpose and was executing flawlessly.
All too often, however, fast-food restaurants are rather hit or miss. You never know exactly what sort of food or service you may receive. In some cases, the employees move slowly, while in other cases, they may move quickly. Sometimes the food is hot and fresh, and sometimes not so much. Sometimes you get the feeling that the employees could not possibly care less about serving you, while others are courteous and concerned professionals.
One of the challenges of fast-food chains is to drive consistency. In fact, this is a key challenge in all businesses. Consistency will drive customers back to us, while inconsistency will drive them away. Whether we are serving cheeseburgers, small electronics or large engineered systems, our customers want us to be consistent. They want to know what to expect from us, and they want to know that they can count on us. They want us to do what we say, not surprise them, and deliver high-quality products and services. It is up to us to build long-term processes that drive consistency and build that confidence in our organizations.
So, if you have occasion to visit a fast-food establishment, or any restaurant for that matter, watch the processes if you can to see what they are doing. Try to see where things are located, how they are marked and how each process is defined. See if there is something you can learn from your favorite eatery — especially if they are good at value delivery.