The founder of Chick-fil-A, S. Truett Cathy, died in his home last Monday at age 93. Starting in 1946 with a diner named the Dwarf Grill, Cathy built a chicken sandwich empire that today has more than 1800 restaurants and more than $5B in sales. There is a lot to learn about life and leadership from Truett Cathy whether you are leading a small business, church, or large corporation. Much of the Cathy story can be applied at home as well.
How do they do it?
- They have laser focus on what they do best—chicken sandwiches. They do not chase the latest fads or trends.
- They insist on consistency in quality and experience in all their stores. You know exactly what to expect when you walk into a Chick-fil-A way store.
- Every decision is made with ruthless adherence to their values. Whether you agree with their Christian values or not, respect the fact that they are much more than a plaque on the wall.
- They limit growth to the rate at which (1) they can find store managers who will do it the Chick-fil-A way and (2) can do it without debt.
- They place high value on recruiting and retaining great employees. Almost $2M/year in scholarships is one example of what they do.
- They have a high commitment to their communities and to charities. They have an enduring policy of not going public so they can give more to worthy causes.
- Their ads are both entertaining and memorable. Their brand of eat more chikin is recognized everywhere.
Are you looking for a business model that will help get your endeavors back on track or spur growth? Try the Chick-fil-A way:
- Focus; don’t chase rabbits.
- Strive for consistency.
- Actually live out your values.
- Be cautious about growth.
- Value—really—your employees (or volunteers).
- Give back to your community.
- Have a brand that sticks.
RIP, S. Truett Cathy. We have learned a lot from you.
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© Copyright 2014 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company