Capitolism

Independent in All Things, Neutral in Nothing

Best-Managed Fast Food Restaurant in America?

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Just off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, on Route 198 in Laurel, sits a Chick-fil-A restaurant. From the outside, it appears just like any other fast food restaurant, but when you go inside, the differences become apparent. It’s the best fast food experience you’ve ever had.

You first notice the cleanliness. No trash litters the floors; you see spotless tabletops; no messy overflows at the beverage island.

Then you observe a rarity in the fast food world – smiles on all the employees’ faces. They greet you with a cheery and, seemingly at least, heartfelt, ‘Can I please help the next guest.’ They take your order quickly, as if they appreciate the value of your time. Your order comes out hot, promptly and correct.

You then sit down to enjoy your meal. After a little while, lo and behold, someone comes around to clear your tray; he or she also asks if you would like a beverage refill. Again, he or she smiles the entire time.

All in all, you have a very nice, and uncommon, experience. Each time I walk in, I feel a wave of slight happiness come over me, knowing this fast food experience will make any other pale in comparison.

Now, I do not know why this Chick-fil-A can create such a superior experience compared to other fast food places (even other Chick-fil-As). But I bet the store has solid management and ownership. If fact, here are:

Ten Things I Bet I Would Find at This Chick-fil-A

  1. The management team has taken management courses – plural. And the classes lasted more than one day. And managers must take refresher courses every few months.
  2. More stringent hiring practices and screens than at the typical fast food restaurant, for employees and managers.
  3. Less absenteeism and less turnover than at the typical fast food restaurant.
  4. A well-developed employee training program, again with refresher courses.
  5. Colleagues who know and like each other, in large measure.
  6. Some basic measures of store performance shared with employees.
  7. Regular, consistent communications from the corporate office, the franchise owners and managers.
  8. Some career development initiatives, perhaps optional for employees who wish to opt-in.
  9. Employee suggestions taken seriously and often implemented expeditiously.
  10. An equally impressive drive-thru experience.

Over lunch today, I found myself so intrigued with this Chick-fil-A that I now want to contact the store and interview the owner and manager. I may do that, and I will see how many of my Ten Things actually exist at the store. I also bet these conversations would enlighten me and my perspective on management and leadership.

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Written by Russell S.

November 14, 2009 at 12:13 am

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