You’re probably saying to yourself—or will leave me a comment to that affect—“Boy, Avsec has really lost his mind! McDonald’s? Really?”
Really. While waiting for Mrs. Avsec to finish a dental appointment the other day, I slipped across the street to a McDonald’s restaurant in Dunbar, West Virginia to get a drink, a hot apple pie and use their free Wi-Fi to get some writing done. While looking around a bit, I saw things and thought of things that prompted these five thoughts on how what McDonald’s does could help any Fire and EMS organization to recruit and retain more people.
#5 They offer more than just a paycheck, e.g., educational assistance, job references. Take a look at the full list using the hyperlink and see if some of those benefits couldn’t be something that you could incorporate into your recruitment and retention strategies. Non-compensation benefits can be a great tool in developing an individual’s loyalty to your organization; loyal employees or members are usually happy as well and less likely to leave your organization. They are also the kind of people who tell others how happy they are being a part of your organization—what better recruiting tool?
#4 Branding is consistent across all of their products. They have a consistent message that they communicate using a wide variety of media. Whether it’s their printed material that’s available in their restaurants, postings on social media, or television advertising, McDonald’s presents a consistent brand that conveys a consistent message. Photos and statements from happy customers. Photos and comments from happy employees. They “make” you want to eat there or work there and isn’t that the whole point of marketing?
See Related: Thoughts on Fire Department Recruitment Media
#3 Frequent uniform changes for staff. Keeps team unity fresh (who doesn’t like a different uniform every now and then) uniforms stay in good shape and look professional. I have a feeling that there’s a bit more to it than just that, for instance, they’ve figured out that many of their younger employees haven’t yet “mastered” the art of laundry so uniforms age more quickly.
Look around your “shop” and assess the quality of the uniforms that your personnel are wearing. Many department have gone to the use of polo-style shirts or T-shirts as part of their departmental uniform and both of those types of garments start to show their age pretty quickly. Why not adopt a strategy of giving everyone new polo shirts or T-Shirts using a different color scheme every quarter? Such a strategy could keep everyone “looking good” and improve morale at the same time.
#2 They have a variety of building designs that can make the best use of the available footprint and still deliver the full range of products to their customers. In Alexandria, VA—where me and Mrs. Avsec lived for almost five years before moving to West Virginia last summer—several McDonald’s restaurants were completely leveled and the new building that rose on the existing footprint had 50% greater useable space inside than the old building. Along with the newest technology to improve efficiencies and effectiveness.
One of the most functional fire stations that I had the pleasure of working out of when I was a member of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department was Fire Station #2 (Manchester). Built in the early 1970’s, the station had two sides: the apparatus bays were an attached metal-clad structure and the rest of the station (kitchen, offices, training room, dormitory, restrooms, etc.) was a single-story ordinary construction building.
With station construction costs being what they are today—and the public’s ability and willingness to pay for those costs—I think the future is going to belong to station designers who can “think outside the box” and develop innovative structures that can hold down costs and “pack” a bunch of functionality into a relatively small footprint.
#1 Their processes and procedures ensure the consistent delivery of a quality product regardless of location worldwide. Employees are training in the McDonald’s way and expected to perform in the McDonald’s way. Some locations are better than others, but baseline consistency is present.
McDonald’s employs and trains millions of new people around the world every year and those new employees have to be “getting it right” from Day #1. If they don’t, then the customer is not happy and unhappy customers are bad for business.
How do your new people learn how to do the job? I’m not just talking about the technical knowledge and skills that they have to attain to earn required certifications. I’m talking about how things get done correctly and consistently around the fire stations, on the scene of emergencies, during training, etc. How does a firefighter learn the correct and accepted way to conduct a daily vehicle check? How do they learn to properly care for and maintain their assigned personal protective gear?
I could go on and on, but I’m pretty sure you get the point. In many departments this type of learning takes the form of “oral history” that’s delivered from the perspective of the person who’s been tasked with teaching the new guy or gal. Sure, there may be checklists that are used, but where does the newbie get the “rest of the story”, e.g., the why, what and how behind how Task XYZ is expected to be accomplished. People who understand tend to perform better and more consistently because they “get it.”