Chick-fil-A Culture and Leadership

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MINT HILL, NC – Chick-fil-A is well-known as a great place to eat and work.  But how do they do it?  At the May Chamber of Commerce Members Luncheon, Chick-fil-A Chief Operations Officer Jasmine Richardson spoke about Chick-fil-A’s culture and leadership, distilling its ability to sustain a high level of customer service and retain employees to four main points.

Know Your Why

Chick-fil-A’s purpose is loud and clear: “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.”

“Whether you’re in the garage, the gym, or lunch room,” said Richardson, referencing the time she spent working as a corporate trainer for Chick-fil-A in Atlanta, “you feel that.”

Start and End with “Why”

“We get asked all the time, ‘How do you do it?’” said Richardson referring to Chick-fil-A’s remarkable customer service.  “How do you get a 14-year-old to look guests in the eye and smile and say ‘my pleasure?’  We don’t have a boot camp,” she laughs.  “The reality is super simple: we start with why and we end with why in everything we do.”

Keeping Chick-fil-A’s purpose at the forefront is the key.  “Why do we say my pleasure?  Why do we pick up trash?  Why might you see the owner cleaning the bathroom?  Why is it important to smile at the guests?” asked Richardson.  “If you start with why and end with why, they’re more likely to remember what they’re doing.  The why is more important than the what.”

Always Do Better at What You Do Best

Chick-fil-A is known for having employees that stay, and Richardson credits that to Chick-fil-A’s unique culture of encouragement and support.  “We encourage all our leaders to be coaches, always available to the team members,” explained Richardson.  “Another part of what we do is look beyond Chick-fil-A.  We have so many opportunities, whether you are in high school, college, or a professional.  We encourage our employees to take whatever they get from us and use it to move on to the next thing.”

Make It Fun

Another key piece of Chick-fil-A’s culture is making it an enjoyable place to work.  “We celebrate promotions, we celebrate people moving on to the next step.  We recently celebrated our seniors; we have game nights,” offered Richardson.  “We make it fun for our team members to move throughout the business.”

Although Chick-fil-A’s Mint Hill location has been open only six months, Richardson hopes that every person who has walked through door has been able to see its purpose in everything they do.  “We exist to engage the heart of our guests, to be a place in the community that people come seeking refuge and refreshment,” aid Richardson, “and I hope you were able to feel just that.  I hope you were able to feel refuge after a long day.  I hope you were able to walk away feeling refreshed.”

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her eight-year-old daughter Hannah and her six-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: