>We managed to survive a six-day vacation across three states without once stopping at the Golden Arches, but we did meet a zombie at an Ogallala, Nebraska Wendy’s.
It was a clear summer evening, and darkness hung in the air as we entered the largely empty Wendy’s restaurant to get a late night meal. After standing at the counter for a couple of minutes, Wes stepped up, looked at the cash register and then yelled at someone in the back, saying “You didn’t sign out at the register.” He then turn to us and asked us if he could take our order.
I should have said, “I doubt it” and moved on. It took 15 minutes to get two rather large orders of burgers, chicken nuggets, fries, baked potatoes and a drink. They had no chicken nuggets, but it would take about three minutes, we told us. After ordering baked potatoes, he said they didn’t have any potatoes, then he said it would take two minutes to get some more, and asked us if we wanted to wait.
After several other missteps, he started to tell us his tale of woe; how he’d been there since 10 that morning, went home for an hour before returning, and how two others had called in sick and they only had one person preparing food. And there was a manager there because I saw her void part of the order he screwed up.
This wasn’t Wes’ fault. He was tired. He was overworked. It was his manager’s fault and the owner’s fault and Wendy’s fault. They didn’t prepare him to own his brand. They didn’t empower him to treat people right, no matter the time of day. He didn’t know or care about the Wendy’s brand; he was just earning a paycheck.
Mike Wagner calls these types of workers zombies, and they can ruin the good work of a brand owner. Wendy’s has a lot of minimum wage workers but I’ve never seen one this willing to stab the brand in the back, all because of lack of sleep.
Ogallala Extra: We also stopped in at a small grocery store and had a great brand experience. It was late so one of the two entrances were locked, as is common when stores are open late. Although we would have appreciated a “use other door” sign, we were greeted by a sweetheart of a cashier who smiled warmly while checking us out, let us out the locked door when we asked about it, and then held it open for another confused late-night shopper. I can’t remember the store name or the employee’s name but I’ll go back if I ever get to Ogallala.