When Bill and Yolanda Chao first came to the Sunshine Coast five years ago to take over the Sechelt and Powell River McDonalds franchises they knew just what they were looking for — the right people to deliver McDonalds’ core values quality, service and cleanliness in a friendly manner.
Right from the start he knew he’d found a winner in long-time employee Anna Colonna. Along with Anna’s knowledge of the community and the people and his expertise with the McDonalds family within two years Bill had the business cooking just the way he wanted. Now he works hard with his terrific staff to keep it that way.
Thirty-three years ago when Bill, like many McDonalds’ crew members, was looking for a part-time job he turned to the Golden Arches and has never really looked back.
“I was 18, going to school in Vancouver and headed for Simon Fraser University when I got my first job with McDonalds. At SFU I was studying computers, so not really in the same field at all, when I realized how important the people were to me. That really got me thinking about a career with them,” Bill said.
As a once shy teen himself he sees the value of McDonalds for taking kids out of their shell.
“After they’ve welcomed and talked to 100 customers they’re much more comfortable around strangers,” he explained.
During his career with the company many businesses point to as the gold standard for customer service, Bill has held many positions.
“I worked my way up through the system. In 1998 I was promoted to supervisor with responsibility for several restaurants in Vancouver. Then in 2004 they asked me if I would move to the Toronto national office to work in the operations department,” he said.
The position gave him an opportunity to develop new products and procedures, as well as marketing and business research. It was, Bill said a cross-functional department and he relished the challenges. But while he loved learning the new job, the weather and traffic were a different story.
While his next job got him away from the crazy traffic, the winters in Saskatoon were still pretty cold. And after two years of managing 20 corporate franchises in the western city the opportunity came to have his own franchises on the Sunshine Coast.
While Bill was a newcomer to the Coast, his wife Yolanda was very familiar with the area. While studying to get her RN degree at the University of Victoria, Yolanda came many times for practical experience to a care home in Sechelt. Soon after arriving in Sechelt their son Nicholas graduated from Chatelech Secondary School.
Over the years Bill has become well acquainted with the high school and its great group of students. Every year he donates a scholarship to the graduating class.
“After they’ve welcomed and talked to 100 customers they’re much more comfortable around strangers.”
He salutes the young people who help make McDonalds the success it is in Sechelt.
“It’s not an easy job. It requires teamwork, the ability to communicate and comfort with technology. Those registers are not easy. I frequently find myself asking a team member to find an item. I try to avoid going on the counter because I actually slow my business down. But the young people they catch on so quickly. I’m better in the kitchen,” he laughed.
Bill is pleased with the changes to the Sechelt location over the past few years. The décor was revamped and recently a dual drive-thru added. And for the night owls in the town they’re open 24 hours.
“Really it’s all about customer service. We have the right food served in the right atmosphere by the right people.”