What I Wish I Knew Then….

As a 39 year old vet in the food service industry, here is what I wish I knew then, but what I know for sure now.

My son sent me a text today.  He is working in a high paced kitchen at a popular restaurant. He–who  shall not be named–was complaining about the fact that the kitchen was ‘slammed’. So he had to work longer than he expected.

Customers are truly everything

That comment brought back so many memories for me.  I was 16 years old working at a snack bar at a Dominion grocery store, one of the few grocery stores in Oakville in 1980 .

Customers literally lined up 20 deep  And I recall thinking, damn, these people are keeping me from doing my job, cleaning and restocking.

What I wish I knew then, serving them WAS my job.

Being slammed is the bread and butter of the business.  And it is not just what pays the bills.   It is what generates multi-tasking skills.  Time management skills.  The ability to work under pressure.  And amazing energy and teamwork in the back of the house.  It is also what creates lifelong friendships and lifelong memories.

Related: Where to Get the Best Work Experience

It is way too easy to get caught up in the administrative details but customers are truly everything.

This skill cannot be taught it needs to be learned.

This skill cannot be taught in classroom it needs to be learned and experienced.   Or it is intuitive.

If I could do it all over again, I would make every single customer feel special and valued.  I would sincerely celebrate every single interaction. Because the cleaning and restocking are only necessary if you have customers.

So if you are fortunate enough to work in this amazing industry please, enjoy every single moment.

Customers are truly a gift.

For better, because they make you feel awesome and want you do it again.  And for worst, because you learn from mistakes.

Author: Michelle Preyde, former Senior Director of Human Resources, Tim Hortons

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