Every business owner has to start somewhere. IndoorMedia’s CEO, Doug Endsley, started his career working in fast food and moved his way up to become the founder of the nation’s largest in-store advertising company. In our Business Growth Leadership Series, Doug discusses the events that led to his current success and how today’s entrepreneurs can learn from his decades of experience.
How to Accomplish Success
The way to get success is by having drive, doing what you are good at, and hard work. I started my career at McDonald’s at age 16. I didn’t work at McDonald’s because it was a great career path, I worked there because I needed it, I had the skills that fit the job, and I could achieve success within my position. Whether it’s flipping burgers, working retail, or cleaning toilets, as long as you possess those three qualities, you can turn any position into a successful career.
Drive and Hard Work
My interest in working at a fast food restaurant was the same as anyone’s today. My parents were poor and I had no way to pay for college. I knew I wouldn’t be getting an athletic or academic scholarship, so I needed to find a way to pay for school myself. Working at McDonald’s seemed a heck of a lot better than mowing lawns, so at 16 years old I started in a service position. I worked 60 hours a week at McDonald’s while attending high school, and when I went to college at 17 years old I had over $5000 saved in the bank. I had worked hard enough in a short amount of time to pay my way through school.
Many teenagers today won’t get a job in this industry because they think there is no way it’s going to make them a millionaire. But, did you know McDonald’s is responsible for nurturing some of the world’s most famous millionaires?
If I didn’t need that job to get the money I needed for my future, then I don’t know that I would have stuck with it. My dependency on the cash it provided made me determined to work hard and be successful at what I was doing. If your job isn’t providing enough money, experience, or opportunities to fill the needs in your life, then it may not be your path to long-term success.
What You’re Good At
I had never set out to excel at being a fast-food employee, but I was really good at it at all levels. To successfully manage a McDonald’s you have to be very good at controlling costs, and I’ve always had an above average aptitude for math. My strongest skill allowed me to be very good at making sure our business numbers were always in line.
When I began managing restaurants, we were introduced to the new point of sale systems that held all the data about our sales and inventory. This was a major improvement from having to add the order together in your head, but this new technology was not being utilized to fit more of the business’ needs. Like I said, the business model is based on controlling costs, and our #1 controllable cost was food. So I set out to have this new technology track all of the day’s inventory usage. Everything was recorded, so at the end of the day I could look at all the transactions and determine what was sold, eaten, or wasted, and then figure out exactly how much inventory we should have in stock for all 150 items. Then I could take this number and compare it to the actual physical inventory to find out where we were inconsistent. If the buns worked out fine but I was missing tons of patties, I knew that we had internal theft and they were stealing raw product out of the freezer. Or if I was missing lots of buns, patties, and other items I knew it was complete product theft and I had a problem with people feeding their friends and relatives and not ringing it up. Developing a system is more than just the technology involved. It is about understanding your objectives and the people that interact with that system. This new system was so efficient for tracking inventory that McDonald’s adopted it for all of their stores.
Let me take a second to tell you about doing what you love. I think you love the things you are good at, not that you become good at the things you love. Because my math skills happened to play into McDonald’s business model, I found the job appealed to me more. I took advantage of my ability to run numbers better than anyone else, and it allowed me to be more successful than my peers. Find a job that plays to your strongest skills. If you excel at something, you can always find new ways in your position to be successful.
When you get a taste of success, no matter what job you’re in, it makes you want more. Success is addictive.
I was very lucky to find myself in an industry that made it easy to measure my accomplishments. Every McDonald’s was rubber-stamped, basically carbon copies of one another. It was like a controlled experiment, because if someone did something minutely different, they would stick out like a sore thumb. McDonald’s communicated the success of each restaurant by publishing a top 10 list of sales every month. Because I used my skills to ensure the profitability of my stores, I was able to see that my sales were building faster than anyone else’s. It wasn’t uncommon for my four stores to be numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the list. And even though sometimes we would slip in the rankings, we continued to be on that top 10 list every year. In such a competitive industry, I was thankful to have a way to easily track my progress. Knowing where I stood among my peers, and how I could do better, helped me strive for even bigger accomplishments in my career.
If you’re not finding moments of success within your job, then you may need to reevaluate whether or not you will ever see long-term progress. Invest your time in the areas where you excel. For me, it was working in the McDonald’s business. For you, it could be anything, glamorous or not. Just make sure that whatever you do, you are investing in work that provides for your needs, plays to your strongest skills, and exemplifies your success.