"Fast" Food Service

We have been watching a lot of the Little League World Series in our house and we keep seeing this KFC commercial where the Mom comes home with a “Make Your Own” Bucket with 3 different kinds of chicken. The other night we decided to have chicken and this is what I planned to order.

I went into our local KFC, which happens to be one of those rare fast food places where there aren’t any tables, just an order counter for take out. I look on the overhead menu for the Make Your Own Bucket, but don’t see it. I tell the guy behind the counter what I want and he looks confused. Let me see if we have that, and he goes to the back, presumably to ask his manager.

In the meantime, I notice a sign near the door showing the Make Your Own Bucket and listing what is included. The counter kid comes back out and tells me that they do have that and its called the variety bucket. I point to the sign and let him know all the details are on the sign.

I order Extra Crispy Chicken (4 pcs), Crispy Chicken Strips (4 pcs) and Honey BBQ Boneless Wings (8 pcs). He enters it into the register. I am ask him about the sides. I am reading a sign, so I know I should get two large sides. He says oh, I entered it in as chicken only, not a meal. What sides would you like? I ordered mashed potatoes and green beans. He totals my check and tells me it’s $14.01. I look at my guiding sign, which tells the price is $15.99 (before tax). I pay him and look at the receipt he handed me. Variety Bucket of chicken, small mashed potatoes, small green beans. I didn’t worry about it at this point.

He starts by going to the original recipe chicken and puts 4 pieces in the bucket. Yes, I can tell the difference from across the counter. I tell him I ordered extra crispy, so he takes out the four original pieces and puts in extra crispy. He gets 4 crispy strips and puts them in the bucket. This is the only thing he did right the entire order.

He asks his manager where the BBQ wings are and she points to a heater cabinet. He takes out what appears to be 4 popcorn chickens. I didn’t say anything at the moment. He goes to get the sides and asks me what they were, even though there is monitor showing my order above his head. I told him mashed potato and gravy and green beans. He starts putting them in small containers. His manager told him all meals get large sides, so he gets larger containers for the sides. He puts the gravy in a smaller container, and again the manager points him to a larger container. He manages to get most of the gravy into the container, and only spills a little bit on the counter.

I ask him about the biscuits. They are listed on the sign I am reading. He puts 4 biscuits in the bucket, and hands everything to me. I ask him if I got my 8 BBQ wings, knowing full well that he only put 4 of something in there. He said yes, those are the boneless wings. I got them. For the moment I took his word for it. He also told me it was his first week on the job. This was not something he needed to tell me. It was painfully apparent.

As I carried the order out to my car I knew Peter would be disappointed if I came home without his BBQ wings. It would not be a big deal because the kids are used to fast food workers messing up their orders (We have ordered a bacon cheeseburger plain and gotten a hamburger – no bacon, no cheese), but he would rather have what he ordered. I checked the bucket and confirmed that, yes indeed, I had 4 popcorn chickens instead of 8 BBQ wings.

I walked back in and before I could say a word, the manager asked me what was missing. I told her I had 4 popcorn chickens instead of my 8 BBQ Wings. She told the counter boy that he needed to dip the wings in the sauce. He went to a different place in the back to get new chicken and dip it in the sauce. As I was waiting, I said to the manager, don’t worry he’ll figure it all out in time. I knew full well that that was a lie and he would never work out. I don’t know what she thought.

So here is a summary of his errors, many of which are training deficiencies:

  • not knowing the name of a menu item advertised on national tv
  • not entering the item correctly
  • not adding the correct items to the order
  • not knowing what the correct item contained
  • charging the wrong price
  • getting the wrong chicken
  • not looking at the monitor for order details
  • getting the wrong size sides
  • putting the gravy in the wrong size container
  • getting wrong type and number of the other chicken
  • not knowing the difference between 4 and 8

Next time we want chicken, I may drive an extra 10 minutes to Hardees.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen