Lessons Learned at Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steak Burgers

So here’s the long-awaited follow-up to The Best Advice You Never Gave – https://wordsofhisheart.wordpress.com/2013/09/25/the-best-advice-you-never-gave-part-2/.

We finally made it back to church after months and months of spending 8 days a week working on our new house. Following the service, we stopped at Freddy’s for lunch. Things were hopping, but the cashiers were keeping up with it. I was impressed with the way the cashiers were working together to figure things out and for their attention to the customers.

When I stepped over to the pick-up counter, I noticed both of our orders of chili fries had onions on them. My husband HATES onions, so I playfully mentioned that I was betting one of them was supposed to be without onions. Their response? “Well, the order doesn’t say no onions, but we’ll get you a new one.” This was followed by a female employee exclaiming loudly enough for the cashiers (and customers) to hear, “What’s going on out there? Those guys need to be trained. This is ridiculous.”

The situation made quite an impression on me. You have a stressful situation, the Sunday lunch crowd, and you’ve got a team of players that are not only turning against each other, but they are making it public. I waited tables back in the ’80s, and I learned two things about customer service: One, the customer is always right; and, two, teamwork is essential.

Looking back on it now, I was probably wrong to have gone back and said anything, but as I sat and ate my burger, I knew I just couldn’t let it rest. Not my business; but then again, if not me, who?

So after finishing my meal, I went to the counter and asked to speak to the manager. The poor kid I asked was the same guy who took my order, and I seriously thought he was going to burst into tears. I had pity on the kid and told him, “Hey, it’s all good, no worries.” He relaxed and the manager came out. The manager turned out to be the same girl who had been complaining about the cashiers. I was actually glad for this, because it meant nobody would be getting in trouble after I left. The poor girl looked at me, bracing for an attack, and said, “Okay, what happened?”

She wasn’t expecting me to praise the guys who were working up front. I told her how hard they were working and how they were helping each other out. She immediately began praising them and telling me how she trusted one of them to do all of the things she usually did and the other one was a hard worker who never gave her any trouble.

I was stumped by her response seeing as 20 minutes earlier she had been complaining about the same two employees. It turned out Freddy’s had had a rough afternoon, several mistakes had been made, and this young lady was at her wits end. Somehow I gracefully reminded her that if her crew was undertrained, it was her job to rectify that. And if her crew was overwhelmed with a crazy crowd, it was her job to build them up, not tear them down. And if things were really falling apart, never, ever complain about your team to the customers.

This precious, precious lady poured out her heart to me. She loves her employees and her job, and it really is the desire of her heart for every customer to have a perfect experience. That’s how much pressure she puts on herself every single day she goes to work.

But I had to put a damper on her enthusiasm. I motioned to the kitchen and all the workers and told her, “it’s not going to happen. You can’t make everything perfect for everyone. So the question is, how are YOU going to act when it’s not perfect?” She was stuck on that one, so I made the leap and asked her if she was a Christian. That soft lovely, “I know Jesus” smile spread across her face as she nodded yes. “Then you know who you are in Christ, and nothing anybody thinks or says can change that, good service, bad service, whatever. Nothing can change who you are in Christ.”

Then I realized that The Lord wasn’t prompting my intervention in order to merely promote better employee relations at Freddy’s; he was using this opportunity to remind this lady of a much more important fact.

I finished up our conversation by reminding her of the impact she had on each of her employees in how they felt about themselves and their contributions as they left Freddy’s each day, whether they felt valued and competent or humbled and incompetent. “Perhaps building up your employees is your contribution to the world at this point in your life.”

I loved this girl. She totally got it. I let her get back to work and I went back to have dessert with my family as I pondered why I felt such a burden to go talk to her, and how in the world we went from complaining about employees to who she is in Christ.

And then it hit me. Those words that I was speaking into her life, God was speaking into my life with my husband and my children. If my children are not trained to do the things I want them to do, it’s pretty silly and counterproductive to complain about it. And complaining to others (siblings and husband included) about them in their hearing can be pretty darn abusive. Praise and encouragement is generally a greater motivator than complaining and blaming.

And how about my impact on how my husband and children feel when they walk out our door every day. Just how much do I impact that, and could it be that this is part of my ministry at this point in my life? Oh boy.

And then the bonus round of the fact that no matter what anybody says or thinks of me, it doesn’t change who I am in Christ.

Talk about an a-hah moment!

As I took Noah back past the counter to go to the bathroom, the manager stopped me to make sure everything was going alright. I said, “I just have to tell you that that conversation we had really blessed me. I realized everything I said to you I needed to hear because it applies to the way I treat my family.”

She said, “It’s because it’s a principal thing. True principals apply across the board. Otherwise, I just would have smiled and told you I needed to get back to work. But I really needed to hear what you said to me.”

What a smart lady.

And what a smart God to convict me with my own words.