Since before my children were born, my wife and I have had a strong fondness for Chick-Fil-A. But since we’ve had kids, it’s become one of the food groups, and a frequent choice for family nights out. We even had to give it a code name (“the poultry restaurant”) when we were discussing it to keep the girls from knowing what was being considered; once they knew it was an option, saying no wasn’t a choice without severe drama.
One day, I started thinking about how this brand has created so much customer loyalty in my family and in my peer group. Here are a few of the valuable business lessons learned from watching this company:
- TEAM TRAINING IS CRITICAL. As a young children’s pastor, my target audience for kids workers was frequently the young teens of our church. I noticed that even though Chick-Fil-A was pulling from the same talent pool as most other fast-food chains, their associates just seem to behave differently. And to deliver a higher level of customer service in so many cases. I had an opportunity to sit down with a local restaurant operator regarding this observation and he shared with me their onboarding process for new team members. I believe that they gain a lot of ground due to the amount of time they invest in training new team members, and who handles it (top leadership, not lower level managers).
- RELATIONSHIP IS EVERYTHING. Many of the team members at our local store know my whole family’s names and use them. Recently, my family and I were there for dinner and one of the managers asked my wife detailed questions about our vacation and how school was going. All questions based on her observations because she and my wife became friends on Facebook, after having no connection other than the restaurant. She could choose to keep it completely professional, but my experience with this company is the exact opposite. Very few large chains can establish that level of customer connection, but I see this over and over again with this team.
- EVERY DETAIL COUNTS. From the bathroom environments to the condiment station to team wardrobes, every Chick-Fil-A I’ve ever walked into delivers a top-notch presentation. In some chains, you may see high quality presented in one store based on a particular manager or operator. But in this chain, my experience has been 100%. (I’m sure there might be a few that aren’t perfect, but I haven’t found them yet.) Company wide, it is clear that this company holds itself to a high standard in this area.
As I identified these principles, I began to ask myself how I could apply these lessons learned in my work in the not-for-profit AND for-profit arenas:
- Where could our team get better through training?
- Do I place a high enough premium on relationship with the teams that I lead, both volunteer and paid?
- Do I think through the details that are necessary to deliver high quality over and over again?
Do you have any lessons learned in unlikely environments?
P.S. I didn’t receive any compensation for doling out this high praise! 🙂