10 things I learned working at McDonald’s and how they apply to your Salesforce work


Cleaning, simple processes, standards, friendliness, consistency, upsell, constant improvement, marketing and pitching in are some of the things I learned during my time as a student.

Like many of us I needed money during my last school years. Money for my car and parties was needed. At that time McDonald’s was my choice for some extra cash. What was supposed to only last for a summer became a regular weekend job for more than 3 years.

McDonald’s is not everybody’s choice for a healthy meal but everybody must admit, they are quite successful. Without judging their food or business practices, they are doing something right.
This post is based on my memory from 20 years ago, things might have changed or been not representative. Nevertheless, Mc Donald’s had a strong influence on my way of working.

Disclaimer: Not all of the suggestions I’m following all the time. Don’t judge me too harsh.

Table of Contents

1. Constantly be cleaning

Every McDonald’s in every country in the world you will ever walk in is (mostly) clean, not only the customer area but also the kitchen and any storage areas. The first and last thing the customers experience is cleanliness. Working at McDonald’s everybody was always cleaning something, you got a few seconds between two customers, clean the drink station. You have 5 minutes to kill until the next rush, clean the seating areas. During the slow midnight shift, the whole kitchen was cleaned every day.

Apply to Salesforce:
If you look at your Salesforce Org, does it look clean? When did you last clean-up your fields and page-layouts or When did you last delete un-used AppExchange packages?
Seldom we have time to clean up our Salesforce Org. It doesn’t have to be the full refactoring, If you have a few minutes, clean up unused Sandboxes and delete a few useless AppExchange packages.

2. All processes can and must be simple

On your first day at Mc Donald’s, you’ve got about an hour before you need to be productive. All processes are designed in such a simple way that every new employee understands them immediately. Many employees don’t even speak the language and still can be productive.
The simple processes are not only thought once at the beginning but enforced constantly since only if everybody follows the same steps every time, the process stays simple. Exceptions are the enemy of simple processes.

Apply to Salesforce:
Look at your (team-internal) processes: Are the processes organized in the simplest way possible? Are the processes documented? Is everybody following these processes?
If you don’t say yes to all of these questions, start to simplify, teach, and enforce your new, simple processes. Don’t start with the most complex DevOps deployment process but something small. Every small thing helps.

3. Standardize everything

Everything at McDonald’s is standardized, absolutely everything. You need to find the sauces, they are slight to the right below the cash register. You need to add ice to a drink, add exactly one shovel. The way you fulfill an order, always start with drinks, get fries, add burgers, and lastly some napkins. This standardization frees up mental capacity. Even in the most stressful times during a rush of 40 drunken soccer fans, you will just serve one after another. For the customer, it makes the experience very predictable, more to that later.

Apply to Salesforce:
You would think that your job as a Salesforce Developer or Consultant is too creative or chaotic to be able to be standardized. I think most of your tasks are pretty similar every time. The way you take notes during a meeting can be standardized or the way you structure a new controller class As soon as you do something more than 3 times, standardize it. Document your standard and share it with your colleagues. Maybe they want to do it the same way, and this is how you get yourself a team standard.

4. Don’t argue with the customer – Choose your fights

There’s always customer arguing with you about everything, sometimes they are right, sometimes they are not. Most of the time it was about something small like cold fries or missing drinks. Often times the customer was trying to scam us out of a free burger or fries, but this didn’t matter. We never argued with the customer. We always gave the customer what they wanted, said sorry, and gave some fries on top. The owner of the McDonald’s had a simple explanation for that: First, arguing costs time which could be better spent serving customers. Furthermore, it looks bad having a screaming customer in your restaurant. It’s almost always cheaper to just give in and hand them a fresh burger. There were times when we had to be though, especially with drunk customers. That’s where we chose to fight. But most of the time, we avoided any arguments with customers.

Apply to Salesforce:
This is a tricky one for our Salesforce projects. We are trustworthy consultants, we need to discuss and argue with our customers to get to the best solution. I think in many situations it’s actually wise to give in and avoid the confrontation. If the head of marketing comes to you and complains about the wrongly implemented email template, just change it. I have to admit, I’m guilty of not following my own advice in the best. I’d be referencing the original requirements document and argue that everything was implemented as requested. But can I win anything joining that fight, not really.
In the future, I will try to be more like McDonald’s, choose my battles wisely and just give the complaining customer a fresh burger and some free fries on top.

5. Customers value consistency above everything else

Everythime you visit a McDonald’s you know exactly what to expect. McDonald’s built their whole business on the concept of consistency. The customer can walk into any Mcdonald’s in any country in the world and expect the same standard for taste, cleanliness, and service. The burgers are not the best tasting, the service is not the most friendly and the restaurants are not always the cleanest but they are exactly the same every time. Even if people claim that they strive for excellence or novel experiences, most of the time they prefer consistency.

Apply to Salesforce:
Your internal customers value consistent behavior above everything else too. Make their life easy by being consistent. Examples are: Releases are always on Tuesdays, presentations are structured the same way every time, page layouts always have two columns.

6. Always upsell drinks and fries

You probably don’t even notice, McDonald’s uses every chance to sell drinks and fries to you. It starts with marketing which heavily pushes menus and ends with the cashiers. They’ll always be asking “Do you want fries with that?”. There’s a simple reason for that, profit-margin. Fries and Drinks are the products with the highest profit-margin by far.

Apply to Salesforce:
I’d say things that are easy to do and need little maintenance are our products with the highest margins. I would assume that Reports, Page Layouts, and List-Views are our high-margin products.
In your next project, you can ask your customer “Do you want some Reports with that?”. Please, let me know if it works.

PS: I think the same applies to internal teams. As for internals, you also need to keep “impact vs. cost” in mind.

7. Eat your own fries

The store owners would often drop by with their whole family and eat Sunday-lunch. The owners are very rich people who own many restaurants and still, they ate our fries. The owner wanted to feel the experience of eating at this restaurant instead of just looking at some numbers in a spreadsheet. This way she made sure she keeps the customer experience always in the focus.

Apply to Salesforce
Do you know what it means to use Salesforce on a daily basis? Do you know how it feels to do a project with your team? If not it’s maybe time to eat your own fries. You can start by using Salesforce yourself for some of your team-internal processes. In order to implement that project, you can “hire” your own team. Start with requesting an offer and come to a formal implementation project. You would be surprised how much you learn by eating your own fries.

8. Improve everything, constantly

Every small detail is improved constantly at McDonald’s. The shift-manager will even check the placement of the onions on the burgers permanently. You wonder, how can an improved placement of onions impact customer experience, but every detail matters. The customer wouldn’t notice the sub-optimal placed onions itself but somehow feels that the burger is just not right. It’s not only the food but everything related to the restaurant is checked and improved constantly. Most improvements are not big, fancy projects but very small, incremental improvements.

Apply to Salesforce:
We improve our Salesforce Orgs every day in the form of delivered requirements. But not only your Salesforce Org needs improvement, also the way we work. There are one million small things which can be improved in the day to day work. Most improvements are small, maybe just cleaning and re-ordering your bookmarks bar or setting up some shortcuts in VS Code. Every detail matter.
I’ll try, going forward, to improve at least one thing a week.

9. Constant marketing is key

McDonald’s is 6th best-known brand in the world, almost everybody knows them. And still, they spend millions on marketing every year. They don’t only market new products but also make sure you don’t forget their old ones. We all think marketing doesn’t work on us, this is not true. We employees could easily tell which ad just ran in the movie theater on the other side of the street.

Apply to Salesforce:
Most of us think good work speaks for itself. I think that’s only part of the story. You need good work and make sure people know about it. You can try to market your work. Communicate not only the new features but also the basics. Maybe you create a short video for new Users of your Org on how cool your Salesforce is? Or maybe a short video showing off the great Salesforce Team you are.
The possibilities are endless.

10. If a bus full of hungry customers arrives, the owner make fries too

Sunday evening was usually a slow time but sometimes bus-load of hungry customers suddenly showed up. Suddenly 3 emüloyees were supposed to feed 60 hungry people. This is when we called the owner of the restaurant. She would drop by and immediately start making fries. It was kind of funny to see the owner in her fancy cloth making fries and cleaning tables. But as everybody knows: “The customer always comes first.”

Apply to Salesforce:
In our daily job, we also have the “60 hungry people on a Sunday evening” situations. Sometimes the team-lead needs to adopt a report, the architect gives a Salesforce beginner training or the Admin tries to fix a bug in an APEX class. “Not my job” should seldom be the answer to our customers, because the customer always comes first.