What Chick-Fil-A Taught Me About Excellence

What I Chick-Fil-A Taught Me About Excellence

I’m sitting at a Chick-Fil-A having my mind blown.

They are proving to me that you can take whatever it is that you’re doing—in this case, fast food—and find purposeful ways to improve the experience of those whom you’re serving, that you can pursue excellence in any setting, however glamorous it may or may not be.

The young guy who took my order—I’m almost positive that he can’t legally drive yet—looked me in the eye, made me feel welcome, and asked me unprompted and very sincerely how my day has been so far. I could hear that he was speaking purposefully, that he was happy in his work, that some thought had been given to this interaction, and that he had been trained well.

While I’m seated in the dining room, I’m watching a couple different employees circle the floor, asking people if they need anything, clearing food from their tables, and generally attending to the experience of the customers of the store.

Just a quick reminder: this is a fast food restaurant.

The place is impeccably clean, the experience is controlled, the service was fast and personal, the employees—young, minimum wage employees—are very well trained and even skillful in their execution of what is obviously a planned experience.

If these opportunities for well-above-average creativity are available in the running of a fast food restaurant, then they are absolutely available to me in my position, and you in yours.

It doesn’t happen by accident though.

There was great thought put into the possibilities of what a fast food restaurant is, and what a fast restaurant could be. So much of what I encountered here today simply isn’t what people expect when they go get fast food. It’s not what fast food does… until it is. Today, it is.

They changed the rules, they upped their game, they changed my experience and completely smashed my expectations.

The thought, and effort, and communication, and creativity, and passion that is behind the experience is just so obvious to me.

If you want to pull this off in your own life—whether it’s your job, your hobby, your own business, your family—I see three general steps to make it happen.

Imagine

First, take the time to imagine, to visualize, to brainstorm what the end product could be. Before these kids were walking the floor cultivating my fast food experience, someone sat down and thought, “What if there were people walking around ensuring that our customers were having a great experience?”

It’s more than brainstorming—it’s catching a vision. Try to picture in your head the best possible experience. Visualize an experience that doesn’t yet exist.

Implementation

This is where you come up with systems that make sense. This is where Chick-fil-A adds one employee to every shift, and builds in the training of employees on certain scripts so that their messaging is consistent.

You’ve imagined the possibilities, the outside-the-box, barrier-breaking ways that you can take what you’re doing to a new level. Now answer the practical question, “What will it take to make this a consistent reality.”

Consistency

This is where things truly change. If I only had this experience once in a while at the Chick, I wouldn’t think much more than, “Wow, they were really friendly today.” I would think it was by chance that I happened upon a random, zealous employee or a staff in a good mood. But that’s not the case. They have fashioned an environment in which this experience is the norm. With consistency, they have trained their employees to create this experience every time, and they have subsequently trained their customers to expect it.

It is with consistency that expectations change, reputations are made, and brands burn themselves into the collective psyche.

Whatever you’re doing, whether you’re in your dream job, coaching a little league team, tending your own homestead, or teaching third graders, there is opportunity to do something special, to push yourself and demolish expectations. Will you be the type of person who takes that opportunity?

Challenge: Write in the comments below one way that you can up your game from where you are right now.

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