In late January of 2019, I am releasing my fourth book titled, “The Alliance House of Values and Behaviors. In it, I outline what each of The Alliance’s eight core values means and how they pertain to what our company does together and for our clients all over the United States. Each week leading up to the book release, I am posting a blog that shares a sample from each chapter that covers one of The Alliance’s 8 Core Values. Last week, we covered excellence. The second of our values deals with service. I can’t think of a better service-minded person than the late S. Truett Cathy. The following blog talks about how Cathy took service to the next level with his Chick-Fil-A restaurants. How many times have you eaten at Chick-Fil-A and left amazed by the service its employees provide? There’s not too many places that have been able to reach the level of success and service that Cathy was able to create at a restaurant chain.
Merriam-Webster dictionary: The occupation or function of serving. Contribution to the welfare of others.
“My pleasure!” – Chick-fil-A employees
One of the great success stories in the fast food industry in American history is Chick-fil-A and its founder S. Truett Cathy, who passed away at age 93 in September of 2014 in his home just south of Atlanta.
At a very young age, Cathy was thinking of ways to provide service to others and, in doing so, he became wildly successful. As a boy, Cathy bought and re-sold Coca-Colas to people and turned a profit. According to Chick-fil-A’s “The Chicken Wire” site, Cathy learned that a lady who lived across the street from him was buying Cokes during a hot summer prior to air conditioning and when most didn’t even own refrigerators in their homes.
At that moment, Cathy knew he had to provide better service to attract more customers like his neighbor. The neighbor explained to him that he could sell more Cokes if he would ice them down. He listened and, more importantly, took action!
He set up a Coke stand in his yard, chipped ice from his mother’s icebox and the people soon followed to buy his ice-cold Cokes. One of his regular customers was the lady who lived across the street. This was one of the early examples of how Cathy knew serving others mattered.
As a teenager, Cathy, like many young men in the 1930s, delivered newspapers. He made it a point to treat each paper like it was the most important paper he had ever delivered. He was quoted as saying, “I delivered each paper as if I were delivering it to the front door of the governor’s mansion.”
Cathy made sure the newspapers were not tossed mindlessly in the bushes. If it rained, he made sure to find a dry spot on each customer’s front porch every single time. When collection day came, Cathy was typically rewarded for providing such great service, even though he had little face-to-face interaction with his customers.
After opening a 24-hour restaurant named the Dwarf Grill with his brother, Ben in 1946, customer service and building relationships was at the core of what Cathy did each day. If a customer was in the hospital or had a death in the family, Cathy sent food to the family.
When Cathy began opening Chick-fil-A restaurants, he made sure his local franchise owners and employees treat each customer as if they were the president when they walked in a restaurant.
In his book, “Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People,” Cathy wrote, “You’d be eager to serve the president well, make sure he had a clean table, then go up and see if everything was all right, or if he needed anything. If you’re willing to do that for the president, why not treat every customer that well?”
Service is about going the extra mile so that people will want to be around you. If you make people feel important, they will want to help you too.
If you have ever been in a Chick-fil-A, you know that if you say “thank you” to an employee, you will immediately hear them respond with “my pleasure.”
A lot of people find it corny to hear that familiar response, but where else do you hear people respond so kindly when you thank them for their service?
At the time of Cathy’s death, the “Bloomberg Billionaire Index” estimated his net worth at $1.9 billion, while Chick-fil-A was valued at $5.5 billion. The little chicken chain that started in Georgia back in 1946 grew to more than 1,800 stores in 39 states. Even as the chain grew, Cathy held his ground and never opened his restaurants on Sundays.
Chick-fil-A is one of the most respected restaurant chains in the United States, and is known for the outstanding customer service it provides to its customers on a regular basis.
When you are working with people in all walks of life, are you thinking about how you can provide service to the best of your ability?
The less I can get you thinking about what you believe or think you know, the more I can get you focusing on the most simple – which allows you room in your life for doing for others. If I can get you little, then you can go through many holes, many houses, many hearts and provide much service. In Africa, you need not worry about the elephants, but rather the mosquitos. What is going to make us big is the attention to detail and small things.
POSTSCRIPT: Now, you’ve gotten a taste of what I talk about in my new book in terms of service. Service is about combining maturity (responsible attitude), optimism (positive outlook) and civil courage (selfless behavior).
Maturity involves a healthy identity, meaning and purpose, moral authority and proper alignment. Optimism comes via trust, unity, hope and a shared bond. Civil courage deals with mercy, intimacy, grace and awareness.
If you can acknowledge all forms of communication, greet people with great enthusiasm, ensure commitment through following up and show mercy toward the injured soul; then you are a person who is exercising with great service toward people.
We are all in the people business. If you don’t realize that and accept it, you are going to be in for a long ride in business. You have to meet people at their needs, and you have to be a listener who is able to respond to what your client wants and needs. You need to be able to adapt to change … and do it quickly. Making clients happy is as important as the very service or product you offer clients.