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After returning from a recent trip, I called my wife from the airport to see if she wanted to get dinner. She’d already eaten and said the fridge was bare, so I decided to use my monthly “grease and salt” ration and stop at a drive-thru.
I pulled into the burger joint drive-thru with three cars ahead of me and sat, and sat, and sat. Finally, the guy behind me backed up, so I did too. There was a Chick-fil-A a block away with a long line, but I reluctantly joined it. Those who frequent Chick-fil-A probably know the rest of the story.
Staffed by what looked like kids fresh out of kindergarten, they cheerfully and quickly worked the line. I had my food in a couple of minutes because of the hardworking staff but also the way their simplistic but beautiful order-taking process worked with four order takers in the parking lot.
Operations matter. Culture matters. I bet this Chick-fil-A produced 10 times or more the revenue per hour of the burger joint that night.
I’m sure the burger joint folks were working hard and bemoaning the fact that they were understaffed during this national labor crisis. Why, then, was Chick-fil-A brimming with friendly, industrious people?
The next day I happened to see a TV commercial for the burger joint. It was cute. What a waste! They are paying to attract people that they cannot serve! Better to spend the money on fixing their culture and operations.
I know it’s not easy, but building and maintaining a culture that supports your business model and strategy is one of the most (if not the most!) important things you can do! Culture is built consciously with concrete actions driven by people who are passionate about what they’re building. It isn’t voodoo! Culture is the sum of all the behavior in the company, and leaders drive the behavior.
Whether you are a Chick-fil-A fan or not, you must admit, they’ve built a culture and strong operating procedures that are gobbling up customers and putting smiles on their faces! Operations matter. Culture matters.
coaches CEOs to higher levels of success. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000 people. Todd is the author of, Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing).
Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email [email protected].