L&T Publisher Earl Watt
Only those of us that worked at Wendy’s in high school may ever know the meaning of GTOR, but it still stick in my head to this day.
During the presentation of new and growing businesses last week in the Seward County Commission Chambers, Wendy’s representative Al Copp discussed the chain’s plans on building a new facility at the corner formerly known as Six Points.
The new restaurant will have a fireplace, video screens and a Wi-Fi lounge, showing that even a restaurant that features old-fashioned hamburgers can stay up with the times.
For three years during high school, I worked at the chain that posed the question on everyone’s lips during the 1980s — “Where’s the beef?”
I did my senior research paper on “The Best Burgers in the Business.”
And GTOR was part of that commitment.
With a staff in constant flux and minimum wage hovering around $3.50 per hour, trying to keep employees focused on quality was more than a chore for Wendy’s. The entire industry faced the same dilemma.
One of the ways Wendy’s squeezed a little better focus out of its employees, and I believe they still use this method, was promoting GTOR, which stood for Get The Order Right.
There were no pre-made sandwiches at Wendy’s, and as each order was called out, the sandwich station had the challenge of putting exactly what the customer wanted on the sandwich.
When I worked there in the ’80s, we had a specific order of how each condiment was to be placed on the sandwich — mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, mustard — in that order.
The idea here was consistency, but also to prevent a sandwich from becoming soggy.
Operating the grill during rush hour was a but of a challenge as well. Put too many patties on the grill at once, and you burn them before they are served and have to discard them. Don’t put enough on the grill, and you get burned. There is an art and science to finding the right pace.
Underneath it all was the constant drive to Get The Order Right, and to also serve the customer as quickly as possible.
To this day I am still impressed with the speed of the drive-thru at Wendy’s. Knowing that each sandwich is prepared when ordered.
They key to their success, and probably the success for anyone, is the strength of their system.
The mainstream employee, like me, will come and go, but each will learn their system.
I’m sure this is the case at every chain restaurant, but beyond that, each business or organization has a system that provides efficiency, consistency and uniqueness.
I also spent a year at National Beef before college, and that system, too, was critical to the plant’s success and still is. I believe the plant is very protective of their system of operation, and these trade secrets are what give them an advantage over competitors.
Whatever the method, each has an idea of quality control, to deliver a quality product, and GTOR was certainly a driver at Wendy’s on achieving this goal in every sack that was handed out the window and every tray that made its way to the dining room.
No one is perfect, and there was the occasional pickle that found its way to an unsuspecting customer, but it was rarer than most, and this commitment is one of the reasons.
A system like Subway completely eliminates this by walking with the customer through the sandwich-making process and only placing on those items that are requested, however, this process also takes a but more time. We all know that going in, and we are willing to sacrifice a little time to work with our “sandwich artist” to get just what we want.
Each system establishes the company’s goals.
Teachers have a system for their classes, and each business has a system that, if followed, makes the path to success easier to achieve.
Like Wendy’s is doing now, these systems need to be evaluated, and when necessary, updated.
I have no doubt that the new Wendy’s facility will be a beautiful building and enhance the customer experience.
As we evaluate these systems, it is always good to evaluate our own personal system and see if we are delivering a quality product, not for the company, but of ourselves?
What are we doing to be the best person/ employee/club member/volunteer we can be? Are we operating with a system that leads to success?
If not, it is always good to re-evaluate our own habits, our schedule, our common practices — or in other words, our personal system, and see if we are doing the things that will lead to the desired outcome.
Have you ever thought about yourself as a product? Have you marketed yourself, worked to enhance your value as an employee, or do you believe you will only do the work you are paid to do?
I have yet to meet the person that believes they are overpaid, and yet, most completely ignore that they are in charge of their own salary. When someone increases their worth through their effort, they create a demand for it.
How often are you getting your personal order right? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your system.