In 2018 Annual Conference

By: Tina Banner, APR, CPRC—Ocala Chapter

Chick-fil-A talks lot about their founder, Truett Cathy and where they came from. Truett learned the hospitality business from working in his mother’s boarding house.  He and his brother opened a restaurant called the Dwarf Grill (later named as the Dwarf House). After having worked seven days a week in restaurants opened 24 hours, he decided that everyone deserved a day off. They decided on Sunday.  It was as simple as that, not because of religious reasons as most think. Truett encourages his employees to enjoy the day off and be with family, friends or worship if you choose too.

Instead of free standing stores, they ventured into shopping malls with their product. The first Chick-fil-A store was located Atlanta’s Greenbriar Shopping Center mall before food courts were in place.  Currently, they are currently in 47 states. They are not in Alaska, Vermont or Hawaii.

It’s about creating the Why? Define what the why is? And why you do what you do?

Why are we in business?

Chick-fil-A’s Corporate Purpose:

To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

Do good with what you have and also treat others the way you would want to be treated.

Truett knew he wanted to serve good food, but really loved people and wanted to share with others.  It really came down to two things for Truett which was his deep love for customers and having a special place in his heart for employees.

Chick-fil-A serves approximately two million people throughout the company.  They have the highest same-store sales and is the largest quick-service chicken restaurant in the United States based on annual system-wide sales.

Truett wanted to deliver a good product and our speaker discussed in detail about some of those fresh products they work with.

She talked about their biscuits and lemonade as they are some of their most popular items. They are the largest purchasers of lemons in the world. Their lemonade is made fresh every day with lemons, sugar and water.

Their store near the Atlanta airport is the busiest store in the country.

Approximately 60,000 people apply to be a Chick-fil A operator and only 100 are selected a year to be Franchisers.

Team members have a great sense of family throughout the franchises.

A positive influence.

The headlines in 2012 about same sex marriage hit the company. Although the speaker did not expound on the details of the issues, she said that the idea was to come back to their purpose, so they sat down and talked to the media.

They learned that to speak up on behalf of your customers is not always your place regardless of your convictions. So we went back to our corporate purpose, producing great food and treating others the way you want to be treated.

When it’s your story and when it’s not your story.

Chick-fil-A had a big challenge when they opened their store in New York City in 2015. We needed to address what happen so they invited the toughest media to attend to introduce them to the brand. They spent time telling their story and talked about the founder and service model. Sixty percent of sales comes through the drive through.  In NYC, they created a system through IPads to move orders through quickly.  It’s all about service innovation, speed of service, loving on people, spark joy, and always thinking about putting the customer up front.

The produce $4.5 million dollars a unit on average compared to $1.5 million with other competitors.

Chick-fil-A also gives back.  They have a deep belief in the generosity of community—it’s part of their culture. Truett has foster many children and sent them to college. They have a scholarship program where they have given $14.5 million last year within the Chick-fil-A family.

Earlier this year, Chick-fil-A raised wages to $17 an hour to spark conversation.  That has not happened in every restaurant but the idea is to whom much is given, much is expected.

Key take-a-away:Look for the stories and think about “what’s your company’s why?” And “why does it matter?”


Messaging used after all the controversy:They talked about what happened and that they are welcoming to all. They also apologized to others for imposing those beliefs on others.

We look where we can talk about the core business.

Serve great food with remarkable service.

How big is your team? They have three public relations agencies. One that opens stores, one that deals with public affairs and a PR agency embedded with her team which is 15 staff.

How do they filter messages down to operators?  They use a variety of technology to communicate messages.

How do you close the gap from the franchise level to corporate level?She has a really great team that is good at capturing stories all the time. During the Pulse Night Club shooting operators in that area went in on Sunday and made sandwiches to give to first responders. They didn’t respond to media inquiries to not bring more attention to it and lose its authenticity. This is an example of how those operators where responding to the crisis in their community.

How do you decide which stories to tell?It’s a multi-prong strategy, the Chick-fil-A brand gets a lot of clicks and shares. They decide what is a story and what is not a story. They really try to understand what makes a good story. Making sure your story is diverse. Read other social feeds to see what is being talked about, so you have a sense of where the stories are. What’s worth the lift and what’s not. Being a student of your own business.

Social media efforts: This function sits in marketing department. We rely on them quite a bit for content.






































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