Not So Fast Food

A lot of comment has been made recently on social media regarding the decision by the New York State Wage Board to recommend a hike of the wages of fast food workers to $15 per hour incrementally over the next 6 years. I have a few comments and questions about it.

First, I want to address it from my personal perspective. Sorry, gang, like everyone else, I’m just a tad selfish, and think of my own interests first at times.

I work at a job that requires a minimum of an Associates Degree and prefers a Bachelor’s Degree. (I actually have about 1/2 of a Master’s Degree, but that’s beside the point.) I work in a business office setting, dealing with peoples’ confidential information. My work requires skills in multiple computer software products (including Lotus Notes, Microsoft Office Suite and work-specific software), high-level typing and data entry skills and dealing with the public. While it is not a professional position, it does require skills I needed to train to acquire to get the job, as well as experience in the field.

My starting salary was less than the Wage Board’s recommended $15 per hour. After almost 10 years with my current employer and multiple raises for high performance, it’s still less than $15 per hour.

Where will it end? I know professional teachers, health care workers, first responders and members of our U.S. Armed Forces who make even less, despite the incredibly higher stress levels of their jobs, let alone the greater physical demands placed on them. These people deserve much higher wages than I make and often make less, and in the case of our military, much less. But where does the “Me, too!” attitude stop??

Something isn’t quite right with a system that demands fast food workers are paid higher wages than employees on jobs that demand higher levels of training and skills. Fast food has always been meant to be an entry level position for a teenager, a stop-gap someone older might get while training to get a better position, or a job a retired person might get to supplement their pension. It was never meant to fund a lifestyle, which is what the demands for a $15 per hour wage really is when you look at it realistically.

I am not meaning in any way to criticize families who are caught in a minimum wage trap through no fault of their own. I know some of them. They are good people, caught in a circumstance beyond their control. They are making the best of their situations, and working to get out. Such folks deserve all the help we can give them. I’m just not sure $15 per hour is the answer. It’s too broad a brush to paint across too many different lives and circumstances.

Many fast food corporations have training programs for ambitious young people to move up within the company, to take on more responsibility and make more money. McDonald’s Mike Andres started as a manager of a family-owned store. and is now its U.S. Corporate President.  McDonald’s Charlie Robeson started as a crew person and is now its U.S. Corporate  Chief Restaurant Operations Officer. Restaurant Brands International’s David Clanachan started as a crew person for Tim Horton’s and is now the Corporate Vice President, as well as President and Chief Operating Office of the Tim Horton’s chain.  (Their bios are easily found on the corporate websites.)  These are just a few of the corporate success stories available.

How are businesses going to afford this? Before you tell me, “Out of their corporate profits,” may I remind you of something? Fast food restaurants are generally operated as franchises. Corporate owned stores are the exception, not the rule, and the corporations tend to try to get these back into the hands of franchise holders as quickly as possible.

This means the corporation offers its name, training, and supplies and leaves management up to the franchisees. The corporate profits of an entity like McDonalds come out of franchise fees and a percentage of the daily take. The rest of the daily take is what the franchisees use to pay their bills for lights, heat, taxes, salaries, supplies, food, losses, improvements, training and whatever else is needed, and eke out a living for themselves and their families. When the employees or managers don’t show up, franchisees have to be ready to fill in. When there is a crisis at a store, the franchisees have to be available to fix it, or arrange for it to be fixed. In other words, franchisees, like all other small business owners, take all the risks, and don’t really net all that much in profit.

Speaking of risks, are you aware of how much it costs to become a franchisee in the first place? A simple internet search yielded some astonishing results! Someone wanting to take such a risk must have a minimum of $100,000 for a smaller franchise with low returns on investment. To buy into McDonald’s, a minimum of $1.1 million is required, and often you need to have extra for the land, and you don’t get to decide where you’re putting it. They do. The returns on investment on one franchise are so low, most own at least 3 to eke out a living wage for themselves and their families.

It is from these people the NY Wage Board wants to take the $15 per hour. Not corporate entities like McDonald’s or Burger King. But the owner of the store down the street, who must raise prices and/or let go staff, and/or find other ways to cut costs to meet these demands.

So where will these wage hikes come from? If these business owners don’t cut staff or otherwise cut costs, then the only pockets these raise hikes will be coming out of will be those of the consumers. Because sure as I am sitting here writing this, prices must go up to accommodate it if nothing else goes down proportionally. This means fewer people will be spending less at fast food places, and more will close for lack of business, causing job loss and business closures, leading to these workers making less money, instead of the more for which they petitioned so vigorously.

Do you want some proof? Here’re a couple of links: Fox News Article and Give Away Pundit Article.

Getting back to my own (perhaps a tad selfish) perspective, with this decision by the NY Wage Board, my already stretched budget just stopped including any fast food place that pays its workers $15 per hour. On my salary, quite frankly, I just cannot afford it. And the problem is, I don’t think a lot of others can, either.

Are Leaders “Real” People? — Orrin Woodward Leadership

How should a leader handle “human” moments?  What response should a leader have when they are confronted by their own failings?  What should and shouldn’t they do?

In his post The Fox & Sour Grapes, Orrin Woodward addresses this very issue.

When leaders are exposed to their own weaknesses, shortcomings, and incompetencies, they will quickly confront reality and change. However, when non-leaders are exposed to the similar circumstances, they will run to rationalizations, suffering from “sour grapes” syndrome. Since Sturgeon’s Law applies to business, sports, and the arts, why should anyone be shocked the 90% of the people in business are in need of further change in order to produce results? They can achieve victory, but only if they are willing to grow personally. This revelation leaves people with only two choices: change or blame. It’s a sad indictment on our culture today that so many choose to blame rather than to change.

YOU make your own bed in life, but you must also sleep in it.

Orrin Woodward mentions Sturgeon’s Law.    This is the truism that 90% of what is available is not worth our time and efforts, while 10% is worth it.  In endeavors dealing with people, the application is 90% of the work being done by the 10%, who are the leaders.

I often see, as Orrin said, when most of us have “human” moments, we follow the 10% of working on it, then do what we can to avoid the pain and embarrassment of our faults, failings and foibles.   Leaders, however, do that 90% work, face their “human” sides and work to change them.  Every time a leader changes something that hinders them, they become better people and, in the process, better leaders.

It has been said if a living thing isn’t growing, it is dying.  Leaders live this out daily.  May it be so said of all of us.


Chasing Our Dreams, Or Being Busy?

In Launching A Leadership Revolution, Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady write, “Picture success as a road that leads to your dreams.”  However, sometimes, on the path of chasing our dreams, we find ourselves feeling like we are chasing our tails, instead.  How does this happen to us, and how do we get back?

I understand that feeling, because it’s happened to me, too.  When I was at my most frustrated, I listened to a CD by Team PC member Tim Marks on Goals And Goal Setting.  The leadership example set by Tim on the CD was very helpful to me.

The difference, according to Tim Marks, is in whether we are managing our business or building it.  And if we are busy, is the focus on being busy, or on getting results? 

Busyness is an easy trap for a leader to fall into.  On the CD, Tim said even he falls into this leadership trap, and needs mentoring with leadership guru Orrin Woodward to leave.  Busyness is action mode, when we are working anywhere in a group, and not working with a focus on our goals.

 Results focus depends on a leader strategically building because their eyes are on a specific goal or goals.  The easiest way to have results focus, according to Orrin Woodward on his CD The Ant And The Elephant, is to have and build a big dream.  Results focus is dream oriented.

Once we get past the need for a focus on results, we need to address other issues.  Time management is a big issue people have struggled with, including me.  I remember times of being incredibly busy, but not getting much accomplished, because my time management skills were lacking.  As I grew in my leadership skill of effective time management, my work became more effective, too.

So what objectives should an aspiring leader reach toward?  The first objective is Power Player, which is Team’s goal for all its members.  Power Player is the basic building block of Team.  Once Power Player is reached, Turbo goals are good objectives.  Attaining Turbo 10, Turbo 25 and Turbo 50 opens up new levels of leadership and learning leadership skills.  Each different objective allows greater access to mentorship by leadership gurus Orrin Woodward or Chris Brady.

The leadership examples on Team provide great resources for aspiring leaders.  The resources Team offers in books and CD’s are invaluable for growing leaders.  They allow us to develop the leadership skills we need to grow our businesses and reach for our dreams.