Alicia Canning, owner/operator at McDonald’s of Canton, likes to be on top of things; whether it’s keeping the store clean and tidy, or standing on the edge of a cliff ready to bungee jump. She lives her life with all cylinders firing.
About Town recently sat down with Canning at McDonald’s, to talk about food trends, her work ethic and that bungee jump in Zimbabwe, Africa.
AT: You were trapped inside a fire when you were a young girl. Was that a defining moment for your life?
AC: Yes. It made me be more thankful to the life we have and thankful for family and friends and to appreciate all we have. My philosophy of life is to just live each day to the fullest and not to take anything for granted. Take each day as it comes and be positive.
AT: So, what is your most treasured possession?
AC: My children. I have three girls who I am very close to. I’m expecting my first grandchild in September and my youngest daughter is getting married next July!
AT: What did you want to be as a little girl?
AC: An airline stewardess! But I wasn’t tall enough!
AT: What trait do you dislike in others?
AC: If I can’t trust them.
AT: How about in yourself?
AC: I’m a perfectionist!
AT: What’s the best thing about being you?
AC: I’m independent. I like that I can take care of situations; that if I have to go up on the roof to fix something, I can. I’m not afraid of doing anything.
AT: It’s fairly uncommon for a single woman to be an owner/operator of a McDonalds.
AC: I am a very proud owner/operator. To be able to do it as a single woman is what makes me so proud of myself.
AT: What about your friends?
AC: My best, best friend is someone who I trust and tell everything and anything to. We are always there for each other — day or night.
AT: Any regrets?
AC: I have none. I’ve lived. I take each day as it comes, through the ups and downs and never take a day for granted. I try to be positive about everything. If something goes wrong, I just try to turn it around.
AT: What’s your best day like?
AC: When I leave here and everyone is happy and the place is running smoothly. I also love the shore, the beach, Block Island, the Cape, being outdoors.
AT: What about your worst day?
AC: I don’t have a lot of bad days!
AT: So, what do you do around here?
AC: My job is to build great teams. My people are our greatest asset - and they know it! Two of my employees have been here longer than I have. I take care of people; the ones who come in and the ones who I train and have pride in. The crew works well together. Everyone knows what they have to do. I know that I can be gone any day and the operation will run smoothly. We’re like a family.
AT: A family?
AC: I’m always available. They know they can come to me and open up and talk to me. They know they can trust me.
AT: Tell me about your customers.
AC: It’s all about getting the customer to come back. We do that with a clean store, good value and hospitality. This store has a low average check, but customers who keep coming back. We keep the store very clean – my pet peeve is a dirty window! If the windows in the front of the store are dirty, what does that say about the back of the store?
We also enjoy doing special orders for our regulars. There are some customers who, when they arrive at the store, we already know what they want and start getting it ready right away, before they even get in line. I put myself in the customer’s place. We treat them like they are guests in our home.
AT: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen as a manager over the past 10 years?
AC: We need to stay ahead of the competition by giving value to all types of customers — teens, families, all age groups. And lots of options — like healthier choices or a menu under 400 calories.
AT: Now, tell me about the bungee jump in Zimbabwe.
AC: It was last July. I was there visiting a Ronald McDonald House and took the opportunity to bungee jump during the trip. I am pretty adventurous and like to try new things. But, I did tear my rotator cuff during the jump and needed surgery to repair it!
AT: Tell me something a lot of people don’t know about you.
AC: I can’t keep a secret about myself! I’m very vocal! There’s not much anyone doesn’t know about me!
Here’s the Deal
McDonald’s of Canton,
220 Albany Turnpike (Canton Village), Canton; 860-693-9284.