Chick-fil-A truly is different


Kaylyn Aulick

The sky was dark and pouring buckets. Wind whipped through the air. A sea of cars lined up all the way out to the road. They were overflowing into the turn lane. The line would not get smaller no matter how fast the employees took orders. With ponchos on and hoods up, they tried desperately to get all the cars through the drive-thru at the normal less-than-three-minute standard. And then lightning struck.

   The employees were forced inside for 30 minutes, leaving two people taking orders from inside as opposed to the regular six people outside. And still the cars kept coming. They wouldn’t stop. The line was still out to the road, and the cars continued piling into the turn lane.

   Wow, people love their Chick-fil-A.

   Chick-fil-A is “faster than other fast food places, and the people that work there are way nicer to their customers,” said Soph. Jackson Field. 

   “The restaurant as a whole treats you like family — getting your name, speaking with kind words in a kind matter — and I have even had workers there ask about my day or my plans for the weekend,” said Sr. Madi VanOmmen. 

   Jr. Fiona Das first thought that the food at Chick-fil-A would be just like the food at other fast food restaurants, but soon found out that “Chick-fil-A tries to satisfy their customers while making sure the food is fresh and hot.”

   Clearly, something is different about the Chick-fil-A experience. 

   The key to their success is not complex. A peak shift at Chick-fil-A has at least 36 people working compared to the 14-18 people working during a peak shift at another local fast food restaurant. Outside at Chick-fil-A, there are several people taking orders, and a few people bringing orders to cars. There is also someone who takes cash payments outside so people can get past the window faster. 

   Inside, someone makes drinks for the drive-thru, someone makes desserts, someone adds condiments to the bagged orders for the drive-thru, someone gets the food and beverages and hands them to the employees outside, a few people bag orders, someone gets drinks for the curbside orders, someone gets condiments for the curbside orders, and someone runs the curbside pickup orders. 

   In the kitchen, about 13 people are working at a time. They are doing everything from making fries and sandwiches to doing dishes. Their position often depends on what needs the most help in the moment.

   The moral of the story is that Chick-fil-A is filled to the brim with employees.

   Additionally, many people remark about the kindness with which Chick-fil-A employees treat their guests. James Barnes, a former General Manager at another local fast food restaurant, who is now a Chick-fil-A director “saw a lot of surprising things that I wasn’t accustomed to.” He noticed guests who were very happy to see employees, a lot of smiles from both guests and staff, and a “level of genuine hospitality and professionalism” from the team. 

   Again, Chick-fil-A’s secret is simple. They have a very precise hiring and training process. 

   When conducting interviews, Chick-fil-A leaders are looking for “people who care about people,” said Donna Mason, the senior director at Chick-fil-A Holland. “I will only hire someone if I feel like they have a good heart.” 

   At another local fast food restaurant, “it is uncommon for someone to not get past the interview,” said Sr. Caleb Louks, a current employee at that restaurant. “I don’t know of anything that would qualify someone to not get hired.”

   A team full of good-hearted people is surely going to offer better customer service than a team with no defining characteristic. 

   Once hired, employees go through an orientation where they are taught about the “second-mile-service” that Chick-fil-A strives to offer. They are told that when they are expected to go one mile for each guest, they should try to go the second mile as well. 

   Employees are then trained to use specific words and phrases when communicating with guests. They say “Thank you for choosing Chick-fil-A,” “How may I serve you,”  “My pleasure,” and the list continues. 

   Employees are highly encouraged to engage with guests personally. Whether that means asking how the guest’s day was, or if they have any plans for the weekend, Chick-fil-A is one of the few restaurants that intentionally promotes such a connection. 

   Louks said his fast food restaurant values customer service very differently. “It’s more ‘Do as I say, not as I do’” at that restaurant. While training employees are encouraged to be kind to customers, the trainers often value speed first, leading them to be somewhat dismissive of their customers. The trainers then show the new hires that it is okay for them to be dismissive also. 

   Fact: the Chick-fil-A experience is different. In both the shining sun and thunderstorms.