Digitally Connecting Your Team with Jacobe Hollins

SPEAKERS

Jacobe Hollins, Zack Oates

Jacobe Hollins

People who do take hospitality serious – you see a difference there. And you always remember that. The food may be good, it may be okay, but you will remember how you feel.

Zack Oates

(Intro) What’s up? Zack Oates here – author, entrepreneur and customer relationship guru. Welcome to Give an Ovation: growth strategies for restaurants and retailers, where we find industry leaders to share their secrets to grow your business. This podcast is sponsored by Ovation, the actionable guest feedback tool that works on or off premise, and is easy, real-time, and actually drives revenue. Learn more at Ovationup.com.

Welcome to another edition of Give an Ovation! I am joined today by Jacobe Hollins, who is the Digital Program Supervisor at McDonald’s, where he has been for almost 10 years. He got his MBA in New Age Digital Marketing. He’s an advocate for frontline workers, and just implemented a system connecting 1.9 million employees. And if you have any doubt of his commitment to digital, his Instagram handle is @jdigitalco. So Jacobe, thank you for joining us today man.

Jacobe Hollins

Hey, thanks for that. Thanks for that edification you did there. Really appreciate that great introduction. Welcome Ovation fans!

Zack Oates

Well, thank you. Jacoby, first of all, tell us a little bit about what you do at McDonald’s. Digital program. What does that mean?

Jacobe Hollins

Yeah, absolutely. So what I do at McDonald’s, you know, digital program can be a lot of things. But the program I focus on is a program going out to all restaurant frontline employees around the globe. So when you think about what’s going on in restaurants, you tend to see a lot of things happening on the customer side, with kiosks, with mobile app ordering, now they have drive thru technology where you may have a robot speaking to you, you know, all these different things that’s happening on the customer side.

But what I focus on is making sure employees in the restaurants are getting that same digital experience. So the goal is to connect 1.9 million employees globally, on a platform that gives them everything they need from an employee standpoint, but also gives them things that the corporation can send to them as well. And then it connects them with their operators, as well. So that’s a one stop shop for everything.

Zack Oates

That’s a great point Jacobe because I feel like so often – everything is about the guest experience at the end of the day, right? And quite frankly, connecting these 1.9 million employees, what’s the end goal of that? Well, I’m guessing it’s to create a better guest experience, right? Because then you have better trained employees who understand more. But a lot of people right now they are having a really hard time finding and retaining. It’s been a challenge, man. What are you seeing out there?

Jacobe Hollins

Absolutely. So just to be – I work in the US market. I do support global, but my primary focus is the US. And in the US, in the QSR industry, you’ve been seeing it before COVID even hit. But once COVID hit man, it was just a landslide of keeping the restaurant staff from McDonald’s to Wendy’s to Taco Bell. I mean, yeah, and even chick fil a. So I mean, to be honest, right now, it’s just – you have to be very competitive as a employer. If you want to get people in, you have some people in McDonald’s that will pay you $50 just to come take the interview. You have chick-fil-a going up to $15 an hour for their employees. And you have McDonald’s – we just went up on, we just announced that we’re going up and raising the prices as well, for employees to come in and work for McDonald’s because it’s just so competitive to get frontline employees in the restaurants to work with this pandemic.

You have things going on from a government side of things, but people don’t, you know, you don’t really realize that, oh, the government is playing a part too. Because they want to be honest. If I’m a crew or if I’m a manager, frontline employee in a restaurant and the government’s giving me unemployment, and I’m making more than what I’m making at my job, what’s the incentive for me going back to work? So there’s a lot of things right now to get people in for work. And it’s a good time. If I was a frontline employee, like I remember, when I was 16, 17, 18, and I was looking for a job, this would be a great opportunity for frontline employees to go get a job in the restaurants at a QSR restaurant. And definitely a McDonald’s because right now is an opportunity for you to shine. They’re having a hard time finding people.

So if you come in when somebody is down and you show them what you can do once all this passes, COVID is over, and things are running back normal, that operator, those managers, they’re going to remember you from coming in and putting in work and easy way to rise up the ranks, put more financial gain in your pockets, and also learn a lot about the business. Because these QSR restaurants, they teach you a lot, you know, especially McDonald’s, they teach you how to multitask and teaching the complexity of a restaurant, they teach you how to run a business to try you know, just from all these definitely they teach you a lot. So people come and work in McDonald’s, and a lot of them leave up and do awesome things. So you can you know, that’s documented, you can Google that and find all these famous people who worked at McDonald’s.

Zack Oates

Yeah, I mean, and working, this isn’t going out to a lot of the restaurant employees, but to people who are recruited employees. I remember seeing on McDonald’s now hiring: “Join us here on your way to there.” And a lot of people where – you just have to if you pitch it as a realistic thing, right? Don’t you’re talking to the frontline employees. Don’t pitch it as like, a career. Because a lot of times, people don’t look at it for what it is right? Be honest about it. And I think that’s, that’s an okay thing. People aren’t always looking for that full time. They’re looking for something to do until they get there. And then hey, if they’re great then they could rise up, like you’re saying Jacoby, right?

Jacobe Hollins

Yeah, and it’s all about, you know, recruiters and companies being transparent with what they’re looking for. And, and being transparent with themselves. You know, in the past, you’ve seen people try to promote frontline jobs as careers and it absolutely can be a career for some people and it can grow into a better career for others. So it’s not to knock that, but if you’d be more transparent, you look at the data, you see that people come to work, and then they may leave and go somewhere else. So just keep it real on what it is and that will attract more employees. Just like you say, “Come here now to get there.” It’s a stepping stone. And you may fall in love, and you may end up you know, being in my seat and working in a corporate office one day. All depends on what your goals are, and where you want to go.

Zack Oates

Yeah, ’cause now, did you start – Did you work at McDonald’s?

Jacobe Hollins

So I never worked at a McDonald’s restaurant, but I was an intern with McDonald’s. And in my past, I worked at a coffee shop. I tried to work in a McDonald’s restaurant when I was younger, my mom would not let me and I have some resentment for that. Because all my friends worked in McDonald’s and I really wanted to work in McDonald’s. When I was growing up, McDonald’s was the spot to work. So I was like, I’m trying to work in McDonald’s. And my mom just wouldn’t let me, she let me work at a coffee shop. So I ended up going to brew coffee, make lattes, frappuccinos… all that.

Zack Oates

Cool. Yeah, my first job was at a Friendlies. Yeah, it was awesome. Awesome job. Amazing peanut butter sauce. It is like, put it in an IV drip it in me – that kind of good. But anyway, let’s go on to our fast five questions here. Number one, what is the most important aspect of guests experience nowadays?

Jacobe Hollins

The most important aspect of guests experience I would say is hospitality. You know, the experience you make that person feel. Which is one reason why chick fil a – they always get a lot of praise from people because they bring that experience and that hospitality they do it at a superb level. And even some McDonald’s restaurants you go to people who do take hospitality serious – you see a difference there. And you always remember that. The food may be good, it may be okay, but you will remember how you feel. So for me, the biggest piece is how the person feels.

Zack Oates

Boom. I love that. Danny Meyer, he said “Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. Hospitality is a dialogue.” Great. Love, love that quote. Okay. Number two, what successful things have you seen or tried lately?

Jacobe Hollins

Mainly it was connecting connecting people together. So the new platform we work on, it’s all about connection. It’s all about putting people together. And it’s all about showing them what technology can do. So before we push this platform out, and when we went into our test, the restaurants didn’t have anything like this that could connect their people. So with COVID happening, a lot of ops consultants, HR consultants, they were hard to get to the restaurants. Crew members and managers, they want to swap shifts, they want to see their schedules so it was hard for them to get there. Implementing this and connecting everyone in one place just made that so seamless and so easy. Now people go into the restaurants, they don’t have their manager’s phone number, they go on our platform, send them a message, call them, or even go in there and swap shifts with somebody else to let them know what’s happening. So it’s all about the connection piece. That’s one thing I learned, connecting people together can definitely boost your business. And if you’re not connected, you will feel it in the long run.

Zack Oates

That’s right. Love that. Next – in your crystal ball the next few years, what’s happening in the restaurant industry?

Jacobe Hollins

So from a frontline employee’s side, my crystal ball, one: if you do not go digital with your employees and you do not connect them, you will have a disconnect. So if you don’t connect them through a digital platform, you don’t do this soon, you’re gonna have a disconnect in the future, and it’s gonna be so big to where the companies who do connect their employees, there is going to be the ones who win, because as these qr restaurants are tended to grow every day, you’re getting new operators you’re getting new people in. And to be honest, brands just can’t continue to replicate what they want to do, they can’t continue to get down to that frontline employee communication. So you’re an operator, Zack. I may tell you something, and then when the information gets to the crew member, it doesn’t sound like the same thing I told you. So an easy way is to connect your people, connect them with the brand, digitally, get them straight to their frontline employees, and do it in a fun way that’s engaging. And that keeps them wanting to come back for more.

Zack Oates

Love that. And what would be your final piece of advice to restaurant owners and operators?

Jacobe Hollins

My final piece of advice is to connect your people digitally. Start investing in digital platforms, do it soon. And really understand what your true managers are going through and show empathy for them. One big piece right now, where I feel, if this was in place before, are people who have done this before, people who have shown empathy to their people, people who show that they care about their people, when this pandemic hit, I’m not saying everybody, but a good majority of your people probably would have stayed with you a little longer because of that respect they have for you. That respect they see you show them. And they feel like you know, I’m one of you and it’s not, you’re the boss, you do this. So having the empathy for your frontline employees, and then connecting with them digitally especially if you’re a big restaurant that’s starting to grow and grow and grow. If you don’t connect your people digitally, you’re going to have a mix up in training, you’re going to have a mix up in consistency, which the customers will see. Because it just spreads so fast. You spread too fast, and you scale too fast and you have no way to get to the people, something is going to give and usually it’s the consistency. And the consistency can be in hospitality, service, at the end of the day, it’ll affect your experience and the customers will know.

Zack Oates

Bam, love that Jacobe. Last one – who deserves an Ovation? Who should we give a shout out to? Who should we invite on the podcast?

Jacobe Hollins

Who should we give a shout out to…who deserves an Ovation… you know, I’m doing a new project right now, with the – first of all McDonald’s, they allow you to do a lot of things. They allow you to do opportunities. So one of the opportunities and one thing I really like is social media. I work in digital, but one of my passions is social media. So McDonald’s. Knowing that, I connected with the Social Media Director. He gave me the opportunity on his team to do stretch project and he’s freaking phenomenal. Before he came in, if you ever was paying attention to the McDonald’s social platforms, A lot of people said they were predictable. You know, it was there. You have a presence. Once he got in things switched and if you pay attention to the platform now, the social handles now it’s just a big move. From Travis Scott, to BTS, to all the new things we did around chicken on social is just amazing. So personally, I would say he needs to be on this show and needs to be given an ovation to is Guillaume Huin, who is a social media director for McDonald’s and is doing some good things in the restaurant industry. He came from France and he’s here now so he’s pretty impressive, man.

Zack Oates

That’s awesome. Well for helping us understand a little more about the digital community and the need to bring that to employees, today’s Ovation goes to you Jacobe! How do people find you/follow you?

Jacobe Hollins

You can find me on Instagram, @jdigitalco and also go to my LinkedIn Jacobe Hollins. If you like YouTube, social influence on YouTube, I’m revamping my youtube. So I appreciate you go subscribe. We’re going to be talking about social media influencers and how it impacts our culture as the black community. I do want to do some influential interviews. So make sure you check us out. And that’s all I have.

Zack Oates

Awesome. Well Jacobe, thank you so much for joining us on Give an Ovation today.

Jacobe Hollins

Hey, appreciate you Zack, thank you for having me.

(Outro) Glad you were with us today. And thank you! Thank you to the risk takers, the troublemakers, the crazies who are keeping this world clothed and fed. You’re the ones who deserve an Ovation. Again, this podcast was sponsored by Ovation! To see how we can help you grow your business, go to Ovationup.com. Don’t forget to subscribe, and as always, remember to give someone in your life an Ovation today!

Find out the importance of connecting your frontline employees form the Digital Program Supervisor at Mcdonald’s, Jacobe Hollins.

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Jacobe Hollins is the Digital Program Supervisor at McDonald’s where he has worked since 2013. He has an MBA in New Age Digital Marketing, is an advocate for frontline employees, and just implemented a system connecting 1.9 million employees at McDonald’s.

Here’s our featured takeaway from Jacobe’s episode (episode 100!) and his answers to the five questions we ask each guest:

Featured Takeaway: Be Transparent When Hiring Frontline Employees

Realistically, most people aren’t looking for a career when they apply to be a line cook. And that’s okay! So you don’t need to advertise your job openings as launch-pads into hospitality, but focus on how you can help prospects get to wherever they want to go and you will attract more workers.

1: What is the most important aspect of the guest experience today?

Hospitality. “The food may be good, it may be okay, but you will remember how you feel. So for me, the biggest piece is how the person feels.”

2: What is something successful you have seen or tried lately?

Connecting people together, digitally. “That’s one thing I’ve learned – connecting people together can definitely boost your business. And if you’re not connected, you will feel it in the long run.”

3: What do you see in your crystal ball about the future of the restaurant industry in the next few years?

A disconnect between operators and employees unless they engage with each other through some platform. “If you do not go digital with your employees and you do not connect them, you will have a disconnect.”

4: What would be your one general piece of advice for restaurant owners and operators?

Show empathy towards your frontline workers. If you don’t, “it’ll affect your experience and the customers will know.”

5: Who is someone in the restaurant industry that deserves an Ovation?

Guillaume Huin, the Social Media Director of Mdconald’s US. “He’s freaking phenomenal.”

For more from Jacobe, you find him on Instagram @jdigitalco, on LinkedIn as Jacobe Hollins, or visit his YouTube channel.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the whole episode, as well as other interviews with restaurant gurus by checking out “Give an Ovation: A Podcast For Restaurants” on ovationup.com/podcast or your favorite place to listen to podcasts.

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