Simple Lessons From a Switched on Retailer

I love coming across articles and reports about companies who are doing it well in today’s tough retail market. I have mentioned this US company before as they do things so well in a very competitive market – fast food. According to QSR magazine, this retailer generates more revenue per restaurant than any other fast food chain in the US. Their average sales per restaurant were $3.1 million, compared to KFC at $960,000, that’s a whopping three times more per restaurant. And they only trade for 6 days!!!

The company, Chic-fil-A, ranks eighth in the list of the largest fast food chains in the US based on sales. And the secret to their success is based on two simple things:

  • Quality food (I can vouch for that having tried their products). Their food always gets high ratings from customers.
  • Exceptional customer service. The chain consistently ranks first in restaurant customer service. Customers rave about their cleanliness, quick & convenient service and hardworking employees.

Amazing stuff – not really. These are two things that every business can control and do well in. Tom O’Toole, the owner of the highly successful Beechworth Bakeries, always credits his success to these two things – quality products and great service.

The fast food industry is not renowned for great customer service, wages are typically low, they employ lots of the younger generation, so how does Chic-fil-A get their employees to be consistently service focussed?

Their pay rates are close to the average wage, so it’s not this that makes the difference. The company says it because of their focus on investing more than other companies in training their employees and advancing their careers – regardless of whether those careers are in fast food.

My challenge to all retailers is – can you do the same thing without having to pay your people higher and higher wages – of course, you can. Most of the younger workers today want to learn new skills, get certified so they have a choice of where their career may take them. Chic-fil-A franchisees are encouraged to ask all new hires what their career goals are and then try to help them achieve those goals.

We can all sit back and think, my staff has a job, and they get paid what more do they want? That won’t motivate and encourage them to stick around. Unfortunately, the pressure is on, some staff will leave at the drop of a hat unless we can give them reasons not to. We have to do more to keep our people especially the good ones.

Some examples of what Chic-fil-A franchisees do for their team include:

  • Funding an employees marketing degree
  • Paying for a team member to attend photography classes
  • Supporting staff in times of need – if an employee’s family member is in hospital, sending food to the family and hospital staff
  • Offering additional training for all sorts of roles in the business
  • And much more

Managing and motivating a team has got harder, however, if we don’t adapt as leaders and provide things our team members value, they will simply move on somewhere else – there’s a lot of choices.

In the words of one Chic-fil-A franchisee – “The better we train, the longer people stay with us.” Seems to be working pretty well based on their sales results, so what could you do to Chic-fil-A your team?

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.