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Chick-fil-A: A Study in the Little Things

On Monday when we went shopping we stopped at Chick-fil-A for lunch and I was amazed by how much the restaurant sets itself apart from other fast food chains. I’m not talking about the “Eat more chikin” cows, I’m talking about the much smaller things that put together set Chick-fil-A on a level above all the burger joints.

Here’s what I noticed:

  • The restaurant has plenty of high chairs. With seven kids under the age of nine, we always need at least two and sometimes three high chairs. Finding enough is usually a challenge.
  • Every table had live carnation and baby’s breath center pieces. You can’t even find live flowers at most regular restaurants. I would never expect it at a fast food place.
  • When we sat down, an employee brought plastic place mats that stick to the table for each of the kids. When my wife said that our youngest daughter (10 months) would probably try to eat it, the employee disinfected her section of the table just to make sure it was clean enough. The plastic mats are a great idea – it helps contain the kid’s mess and is easy to clean up afterward. It also gives clean-conscious parents a little peace knowing that their kids’ food at least has the chance to stay on a clean surface.
  • The employees working at the counter call the customers “guests”. I’m sure some of you are saying “How superficial” but I would rather be called a guest than “Next!”.
  • From the previous point, there are actually employees who go around to tables asking how everything is and providing drink refills. This certainly makes me feel more like a “guest” than in other fast food places.
  • The employees are clean-cut and smile.
  • They are closed on Sunday. In this consumerist era it’s almost impossible to find places that close any day of the week because you have to get EVERY LAST DOLLAR YOU CAN regardless of religious convictions.

Taken on their own, each of these points isn’t that significant. But when you put them all together they clearly say that Chick-fil-A is NOT your typical fast food chain.

So what little things do you do or should you be doing to set your store apart from the typical dusty, boring, out-of-date Catholic store? What tells your customers that your store is better than other stores and worth shopping at? If you can’t think of anything, your store is the one that will eventually get left behind while someone else builds a store that distinguishes itself in the little things.

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