Inspiration comes from where you least expect it. Mine came recently from the manager of a small business.
I met Cassondra Webb, 33, at the natural-hair salon in Raleigh where we get our dos done. She lit up the room with her bubbly banter and spoke glowingly about her job as operator of Biscuitville in Fuquay-Varina.
I LOOOVE my job and I love my co-workers, she said. I can honestly say I look forward to going to work because we dont just work, we have fun.
Many people I know are unhappy with their jobs, and fast-food positions dont have a reputation for being fulfilling. So I visited Webbs store to see what the fuss was about. What I learned could be applied to any small business.
Give more than necessary: Webbs store has earned a variety of accolades. She fosters this, she said, by investing in her staff. She lent employee Christie Wayne, 38, a vehicle for a month after Waynes SUV was hit by another car. Cassondra asked me, Why are you walking to work? Take these, dangling keys to a vehicle Webb and her husband rarely drove. I went in the bathroom and just cried, Wayne said. I didnt know people would do things like that for me.
When Wayne was offered another job with higher pay, she turned it down. The extra money is nothing compared to how Im treated here, Wayne said.
The takeaway: Kindness builds loyalty.
Lead by example: Biscuitvilles Brian Wooten, 18, said he rarely saw his manager at his previous fast-food job and operations were chaotic. I had to train myself, Wooten said.
But Webb is there serving, greeting and delegating so things run smoothly, he said.
Hopefully Ill move up and Ill be able to stay here a good long time, he said.
The takeaway: Leading by example builds a culture of hard work.
Coddle customers: Dusty Cordell of Angier and his work crew eat at Biscuitville whenever theyre in the area. Its the niceness, he said. Im excited to come here. I mostly get the same thing every time we come and when Im walking up, they are already punching in my order.
The takeaway: Special attention leads to repeat customers.
Take a chance on people: Amanda Jennings, 20, was hired with no experience. Not many places that are hiring want to train you if you dont already have experience, Jennings said. But Ms. Webb took a chance on me. Webb said customers like Jennings and shes a good worker.
The takeaway: You could find a diamond in the rough.
Find life balance: Webb got her first fast-food job at 18 and rose to manager, but that came with long hours. She was paid well, but was exhausted and her children hardly saw her. Biscuitville closes at 2 p.m., so now she has time to enjoy life. I know some people look down on jobs in fast food, Webb said, but this suits me.
The takeaway: Find work you love that fits your life.
Sheon Wilson is a writer, wardrobe stylist and creator of The N&Os Refresh Your Style. Follow Sheon on Twitter @sheonwilson.