A lot to learn from a chicken

The other day I had the great fortune of hearing a presentation by Dan Cathy, President and COO of Chick-fil-A.  Dan had a lot of great things to share about leadership and service (which I will share in a moment), but what I really wanted to show you was the opening video to his presentation (found on youtube).

When Dan then came out on stage with two 6′ tall cows and did the Chicken Dance, I knew this wasn’t going to be your typical corporate rah-rah speech.

If you don’t know Chick-fil-A yet – you will.  According to Dan there will be umpteen new restaurants opening this year, and from the sounds of it, he’ll be at most of them.  He told us about the tradition of how the Chick-fil-A faithful line up 24 hours early for a chance to be one of the first 100 customers at a new location.  Those first 100 get free Chick-fil-A for a year!  Not only does Dan attend these events, he often camps out with his customers.

Dan talked a lot about going the extra mile and applying luxury, upscale principles to his fast food restaurants.  For example, if you walk into the restroom and the soap is full and it’s clean, that’s the expectation (mile one).  But, if you go in there (in a fast food restaurant) and there are fresh flowers and a basket of mouthwash on the counter, that exceeds what you expect (mile two, or the extra mile).  His goal at his restaurants is to make the second mile, second nature.

To go along with this, he said that maintaining the first mile (the basics) will keep you in business, but it’s the second mile that will move your business ahead, create more fun and loyalty from your customers and differentiate your business from the competition.

He also told an interesting stories about his new hobby – beekeeping.  He mentioned that he was having trouble with one of his hives and that the queen bee was kind of nasty, and it showed in the worker bees and their production.  What he learned over time is that if you want to change the temperament of the hive, you have to change out the queen.  Never thought about it that way, but it makes sense.

One last thought I will share from the presentation is about respect, dignity and honor, which Dan says (and I agree) are in high demand, but low in supply.  People pay top dollar to go to a spa or retreat to feel like a king or a queen (not bee!) for a day or a week.  How many vacation packages do you see that are all about relaxing and letting all of your cares melt away?  Dan was referring to how we treat our customers, but I also think that can be applied to how we treat our team members as well.

Everyone is going through something, and may just need a little compassion.

Thanks for reading!

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