Saturday, October 8, 2011

Working at Panera Bread - Pros and Cons

Well, this is the last stretch, people. I'm quitting my part-time job at Panera Bread to work a couple hours a week as a writing tutor at my university. I just couldn't keep up with all the work, and when I asked for less hours, I didn't get them. So I gave them my note of resignation earlier this week. I'm a little sad, but also a little happy to go. To help job-searchers who are considering a position at Panera Bread, here is a list of pros and cons about working there:

Pros-- (let's start off on a happy note, shall we?)
  • Safe work environment: There are tons of posters around my workplace that tell you who to contact in case you ever feel you're in an uncomfortable situation. Given that at my last work, the environment was extremely racist and I felt sexually harassed at times, this is a plus.
  • Regular customers: There are regular customers that you will get to know. Talking to them is a lot of fun and they can be really helpful for those damn MindShare surveys.
  • Great benefits: Even part-time employees can get benefits.
  • Employee discount: The employee discount at my work was 65%. That's a hell of a lot. You have to use the discount around your workshift, though. If you want to use your discount outside of work, you have to apply for an employee certificate that will get you 50% off any corporate store. You can give these certificates to friends and family as gifts.
  • Food: The food's pretty good, but there are definitely some unhealthy items you'll want to avoid.
  • Clothing: Aprons are washed for you every day. All you need to worry about is your polo and pants. 
  • People: There are mostly young people working at Panera. We'll get into why in the cons, but everyone is really nice and friendly.
  • Environment: You'll work indoors, only occasionally going outside for trash or umbrellas. The store doesn't smell like greasy, fast-food since there are no deep-fryers. I never passed out once when I worked here, but I did faint several times at Portillo's and I think it was because of the fryers.
  • Great training: You'll get paid for your training AND there will be plenty of it. They have a beginners course called Planet Bread where you get to sample some of the food, and they also have a website that takes you through all the things you'll need to know.
  • Good pay: The pay is pretty good. I got paid above minimum wage at my work, and there are opportunities for raises during certain times of the year.
  • Breaks: Panera actually gives you the legal break time of thirty minutes for every five hours you work. Some places will make you sign your rights away (like my job at Portillo's) and you'll be stuck working ridiculously long shifts with almost no breaks. 
  • Really fast-paced environment: Count on taking a good, three-hour nap after every one of your shifts, especially if you're working in the morning. You'll never have a break and you'll be constantly running around trying to get all your side-work done. Only younger people work here because it's ridiculously busy all the goddamn time; they're the only ones who can keep up with it.
  • Order Procedure: The system is pretty decent for filling out orders, but you'll lose your voice at least ten times. I guarantee it. This is because you have to practically interrogate the customers when they order. Here is a typical scenario with someone just trying to order a bagel: 
    "Hi! How are you today? Do you have a Panera card? You don't? Would you like a Panera card? No? Okay, what can I get for you? A bagel? Which bagel? Would you like that sliced and toasted? Any cream cheese? Would you like a drink with that? What size of drink? Is that for here or to go? Anything else I can get for you?" 
    And then lunch is even worse: "Hi! How are you today? Do you have your MyPanera card? Would you like one? What can I get for you? Is that a going to be a U-Pick-2? It is? Okay, what soup would you like? Would you like bread, chips, or an apple with that? Anything to drink? Would you like a bakery item for ninety-nine cents? Would you like that bakery item on a plate for here or in a bag to go? Is the rest of the order for here? Anything else? May I have a name for the order please? Now I'm going to read back your entire order." Every single transaction will be like this. Every, single one. That adds up. And if they change their mind on getting something, like a bakery item, it's a pain in the ass to reorganize their order. It's a bit complicated to explain, but  if you work as a cashier here, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

    • Food: Yes, the food is good, which is a pro. But the food is also really unhealthy for you. You need to learn how to eat right here, and be careful what you order all the time.
    • Hours: If you ask for time off, there's a chance you won't actually get it.  
    • Restrictions Due to Rigorous Procedures: Most of this is in place due to health concerns, but some of it is ridiculous. I got yelled at once because I reorganized the bakery to improve our productivity. All I did was move some forks and knives to the other register so that cashier wouldn't have to run back and forth all the time. It wasn't dangerous, it wasn't in the way, it just wasn't "how things are done." Yet....
    • Contradictory Instructions: No one knows what they really should be doing. Always just listen to the general manager. I've gotten so many different answers/orders from managers that are completely different than what another manager said. This is probably at every job, but it's also here. They only end up shooting themselves in the foot.
    • Shifts: You'll always be held over your shift. When they say on your schedule you'll be out by 1:30, they actually mean, "We'll be pulling your drawer out at 1:30. You'll actually get out around 2:00 or 2:30." You'll never get out on time unless it's really slow, which is rare.

    As you can see, it's a fairly nice place to work, even with all the cons. I really did enjoy working here, but I got really tired after my shifts and I wasn't getting the hours I wanted. Because of that, I've decided to quit. But I do encourage those who think they can handle the challenge to give Panera a shot. It really is a decent company to work for.


    1. thanks so much, this is really helpful and preparing, I have an interview tomorroe :0

    2. Everything that was said is SOO TRUE.

    3. My daughter just worked her first long shift. She worked 7 hours, 9-4 without a break or lunch. I managed restaurants for 15 years and this is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. If this is typical then I really question their managements ability to actually run a store.

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    5. I've never worked in a restaurant that actually gave you breaks. When i worked at Olive Garden we didn't get breaks, but if we took a "double shift" we could mayybeeee get off the first shift early enough to eat a quick meal before getting back on the clock. Pizza Hut was slow enough you could have someone watch your tables while you took a break to eat or sit down for a few minutes. Applebee's didn't give their hosts breaks and neither did Buffalo Wild Wings.

    6. very thorough thank you so much. Just was offered a position but after reading all of this not sure if I want it. Sounds very monotonous to me, not something I think I would enjoy doing. I have a week to decide if I'm taking the position or not. Thanks for the great read!

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    7. hey Rose, could I get in touch with you with a few more questions?

    8. I have orientation on Thursday. Where is the Panera Planet thing actually held? I hope its not too far away.

    9. I work there now but I'm quitting ASAP because I am unfortunate enough to be working at one of the locations that is unpleasant because of horrible management. My GM is an alcoholic, the training manager doesn't follow through on training and doesn't follow her own rules, my scheduling manager is a ditz and messes the schedule up weekly and at least one employee calls out every day. If you're thinking about working at Panera, spend a lot of time analyzing the interviewing manager's behavior and observe the others there. It truly does matter on management on whether or not your employment will be pleasant. For me, good riddance. Good luck, everybody!

      1. LOL sounds like the Panera Bread near the one I work at.

        Panera Bread definitely needs to get their management checked and fixed.

        My training manager doesn't follow through on training. I think I have just the beginning course completed. Which is nothing. I haven't even done the breakfast,sandwhiches, salads.....but yet I'm told to be doing those things because I already know.

        Which I do but not certified only because they can't do their job right.

        Someone calling out happens more than often.

        The scheduling manager is not so good with technology so she spends a lot of the time making that schedule. Which is always bad. I don't understand why there is a scheduling manager that gets paid to do something that another scheduling manager can do in a fraction of the time. and be more efficient with it.

        I put away Sygma every Mon and Thurs. morning.

        When I first started there, I would make sure everything was done super nice and fast. It would look very organized.(while it lasted)

        There's no discipline.
        Employees don't respect managers.
        Managers don't earn respect because they simply cannot do the job they have titled.

        I have about 4 months working there and I am already feeling the effects of the working environment. It sucks. Finding another job and getting it is something that lifts up my mood. Which is why I will be leaving before the month ends. =]

    10. I live in ny does panera bread pay weekly or bi- weekly

      1. Biweekly in South Carolina I'm sure it's the same everywhere. Payed on Tuesdays, the work week runs Tuesday to Wednesday schedules come out on weekends

      2. Biweekly in South Carolina I'm sure it's the same everywhere. Payed on Tuesdays, the work week runs Tuesday to Wednesday schedules come out on weekends

    11. I work there and would just like to say this is true. Things get worse when seasons change causing our menus to change. That or we delete items due to them not being clean and the customers just get upset and want an item as close to it as possible, even though most of the time the item is still on the menu

    12. I work there and would just like to say this is true. Things get worse when seasons change causing our menus to change. That or we delete items due to them not being clean and the customers just get upset and want an item as close to it as possible, even though most of the time the item is still on the menu

    13. What is the first day on register like? I've been training on barista and they are finally putting me on register from 9-4 tomorrow.

      1. How did it go?

        If you were nervous, that's going to be with everything you do in life that you haven't done before.

        Learn as much as possible, the more you know the more confidence you will have in what you're doing.

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