Chick-Fil-A: A Lesson In Culture

Posted by Craig Schwipps on June 15, 2017
Find me on:

chick-fil-a uses culture and business acumen to embrace organization

This past Sunday, as with every Sunday, I found myself craving an original chicken sandwich and waffle fries from Chick-Fil-A. Unfortunately, as fellow fans will know, Chick-Fil-A is closed every Sunday. It’s very unique in terms of a fast food restaurant to be closed any day of the year, let alone a day every week. But this works for Chick-Fil-A. Why? Because they have an organizational culture and values they have always made clear and never shied away from.

It’s critical for an organization to be fully committed to two things: their culture and their product. Chick-Fil-A has shown true business acumen by embracing both. Let’s explore.

The Product:

It’s the best chicken sandwich. The best. You may disagree, that’s fine, but it’s the greatest chicken sandwich ever. They’ve had the same recipe and menu for years, because they haven’t needed to change it. When your product resonates with billions, few changes are ever necessary. They have of course adapted their menu with more health conscious items as health fads come and go, but their #1 combo will forever and always be the original chicken sandwich they were formed on. Chick-Fil-A remains true to who they are and what they make, and that is why scandals and accusations have done little to affect their food sales.

The Culture:

Whether you are religious or not, it must be said it’s impressive that Chick-Fil-A’s owners have always stood firm in their faith and personal beliefs. When faced with a potential scandal for their views on a social issue, they did not back down, because they had had the same view for years and it didn’t affect how they ran their operation. In fact, they escaped the social media storm quite unscathed and few remember the scandal because the food chain decided to only focus on making great food and providing exceptional service. Much of their branding is focused on product. Their ad campaigns are humorous, often showcasing cows urging you to avoid burgers and go after chickens more. Their staff embraces the culture of a service industry. They’re always courteous and prepared. Think of the last time you spent more than five minutes in a Chick-Fil-A drive thru, even during a lunch rush.

And have you noticed what Chick-Fil-A staff say each time you thank them for your food or order? It’s “my pleasure.” I have never seen another food chain entrench a phrase so whole-heartedly in every team member. It doesn’t matter what state I’m in, when I go through a Chick-Fil-A, it is always their “pleasure” to serve me. And that’s very powerful yet subtle. It makes them stand out in my eyes, and makes me feel genuinely cared for more than if they were to say “you’re welcome” or “no problem.”

Chick-Fil-A has built an incredible culture of courteous service and it shows with every interaction they complete. I urge you to look at your own organizational culture. Does it stand out? Does it resonate who you truly are and what you want people to see? If not, look to examples that showcase where you can go. And seeing as how it's not Sunday, I'm going to go get me a number one combo. I hope to see you there. 

Want to learn more about how to align and engage your organization around your culture? Download our informative eGuide HERE

Topics: Strategic Alignment, Employee Engagement