Chick-fil-A CEO; Jesus Teachings Resulted In Double-Digit Increase In Sales Despite a Poor Economy

By: Tia Johnson 0 Comments   4/19/2012

One of Jesus' early sermons provides more than good preaching material; it's good business material.

The passage resides in Matthew 5-7 and is known as the "Sermon on the Mount." Chick-fil CEO Dan Cathy jokingly stated that it's also a sermon on how to operate their restaurant.

Based on its annual sales, Chick-fil-A is the second-largest fast-food restaurant chain specializing in chicken. More than 1,500 of its restaurants exist in the U.S., employing approximately 60,000 people, according to wikipedia.

According to Cathy, Jesus' principles are especially effective when dealing with disgruntled customers. Cathy explained how Jesus taught to turn the other cheek when stricken, and to walk an extra mile for others.

"Following this example, Chick-fil restaurant employees have undergone 'the largest etiquette training' program in the country," described Michelle A. Vu with the Christian Post

It also may be the most diverse and peculiar etiquette training. "Going the extra mile" is especially diverse at a restaurant where a meal costs only $6. Yet these employees are trained to place fresh flowers on tables and offer fresh ground pepper to customers. They'll carry meals to your table and even pull out chairs for female customers.

This way of serving fast food is peculiar enough that it's gathered attention. According to Cathy, this new model of service has resulted in double-digit sales increases over the past 48 months, even amid a struggling economy. They've had an extraordinary record of 43 consecutive years of annual sales increases.

"By focusing on having a positive impact on customers and glorifying God in the process, Chick-fil-A has managed to endear itself to customers," wrote the Christian Post.

Cathy shared his information at a summit in southern California about technology's impact on reaching people. He said that businesses do need high technology, but they also need a high level of personal customer service to be successful.

"'This (smart phone) represents all the things that are changing and this little New Testament represents all the things that haven't changed and never will change, and we got to have both,'" said Cathy.

They appear to have both. Chick-fil uses a specialized pressure cooker to prepare their chicken. And while their mission statement is "Be America's best quick-service restaurant," their corporate purpose is, "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."  

A corporate purpose like that is bound to meet controversy, and it has. Those against Biblical marriage have brought opposition to the restaurant for their charitable donations to pro-family groups. The restaurant was also sued by a former Muslim employee who states he was fired because of his differing religious beliefs. Truly, Chick-fil-A has not only succeeded as a restaurant; they've succeeded in being counter-cultural. It's no surprise they've faced some opposition.

On the positive side, Cathy's advances on reaching people provide a great example of Jesus' teachings being integrated through all of life. The Bible should not be chained down to Sundays or in conversations only with our Christian friends at a Bible study. The principles in the Bible are profitable when applied on many fronts.

Truthfully, many business leaders who have no Bible training have instituted Biblical principles. Things like hiring people of character, showing kindness, being generous in the community and protecting honesty have been successful measures businesses have followed because they work. A business that compromises its integrity might succeed for awhile, but loses on public opinion once the deed is found out.

As Proverbs 11:3 states, "The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them."(NKJV) 

Christian entrepreneur Dave Ramsey has launched EntreLeadership, a training resource for businesses, which stresses the importance of putting people first and operating with integrity. During podcasts groups are highlighted who have done well modeling these principles: Chick-fil-A, Zappos and Tony Dungy (former NFL coach) are among them.

Meanwhile, homemaking icon Martha Stewart provides just one example of the impact of sin done in secret. She was charged with a white collar crime and sentenced in 2004 to five months jail time for her dishonesty and mishandling of stocks. Since then, she will never regain the same integrity she had with her viewers.

Ironically, putting people first and living a life of integrity brings to mind a very popular scripture in Matthew 22, when Jesus said that the greatest commandments are to love God with all your being and to love your neighbor as yourself.

Cathy of Chick-fil-A seems to understand this well. "Here's the deal. All of us were created in God's image," he said. "Because we are created in God's image-- [who] is to be treated with honor, dignity, and respect-- we desperately in our deepest part of who we are... desire to be treated respectfully and with honor and with respect."

Who would have thought that those Sunday School lessons had so much application in the business world? This may be the best-kept secret from our secular college professors. Writer's Note: business owners who are looking for ways to integrate faith and work may benefit from Dave Ramsey's EntreLeadership training or a membership with The C12 Group

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