You may already know that Chick-fil-A is the third largest fast-food restaurant chain in the U. S. and that it ranks #1 in customer satisfaction. But did you know this year, the fast-food restaurant chain entered the ranks of the country’s most respected and revered companies at #51, ahead of Amazon at #54? This according to the Reputation Institute, a reputation measurement and management services firm. Kyle Bartz is one of the newest owners of a local Chick fil-A in Pewaukee, Wis. He joins #Brandstorm to talk about this great brand story.
About Kyle Bartz
Kyle didn’t even know what a Chick-fil-A was when he walked into one of the restaurants on the East Coast 11 years ago. But, when the local owner told him to come work for her and he might have the opportunity to own his own restaurant in a few years, he was intrigued with the possibilities.
Kyle worked for two local owners before going to work for Corporate helping owners to open new restaurants. He spent nearly three years learning everything he could about the business and what you needed to know to be an owner and leader. He then became part of an extensive selection process to determine which restaurant location would be a good fit. That took another year and a half. In April 2019, Kyle opened a Chick-fil-A in Pewaukee, Wis.
Chick-fil-A’s founder was S. Truett Cathy. Cathy started the business in 1946, when he and his brother, Ben, opened an Atlanta diner known as The Dwarf Grill (later renamed The Dwarf House®). Through the years, that restaurant prospered and led Cathy to further the success of his business. In 1967, Cathy founded and opened the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Atlanta’s Greenbriar Shopping Center. Today, Chick-fil-A has the highest same-store sales and is the largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the United States based on annual system-wide sales.
A quick fun fact about Chick-fil-A is how it got its name. Cathy called the first part Chick, because chicken was the primary food on the menu. The second part, “fil,” is about the cut of meat used, the filet, and the “A” stands for Grade A quality meats and produce that always come from the very best sources.
Opening the Chick-fil-A Way
Kyle said every Chick-fil-A opening is different for every new restaurant. Openings are tailored to the local community and what resonates with them, but Corporate always provides a lot of support for the owner. In Kyle’s case, his “opening” started on a Monday night with a Premiere Night. More than 100 residents were selected from a Facebook promotion and invited to sample the food and get a preview of what’s to come. On Tuesday night, Kyle had a Dedication Dinner, which was a private, catered event for his team in Pewaukee. Wednesday was the “First 100 Camp Out.” The first 100 to camp out that night were given a year’s worth of Chick-fil-A, or one meal a week. On Thursday, Kyle officially opened the doors to his new restaurant.
Finding & Training Talent
When you have a great brand story like Chick-fil-A finding talent is a little easier than it is for other fast-food restaurants. Kyle says he received about 1200 applications in the first, four months. Retail is a people business, so Kyle was looking for friendly people who weren’t just looking for a job. He was interested in finding people looking for a pathway to success, maybe even future ownership, like him.
Originating in the southeast in the 1940s, Chick-fil-A is somewhat new to the Midwest, and Wisconsin, in particular. Most of Kyle’s employees didn’t know much about Chick-fil-A and for many, this was their first job.
Kyle believes with his team, it is more about setting an example than it is training. The company has a what is called “Two Mile Service.” The first mile is the guest’s expectation. The second mile is what Kyle and his team do to go above and beyond a guest’s expectations. If the guest’s expectation is faster service, how do they make it faster? If politeness is the expectation, Kyle’s team makes sure they are doing everything possible to please their guests, carrying meal orders to their cars, keeping tables clean and refreshing drinks, as examples.
Kyle also says he has two buckets of “care.” The first bucket is for his guests and the second is for his employees. He gives stuffed plush cows and coupons to his employees and asks them to hand them to people who look like they are having a bad day or to make a child smile. He leads by example with his team, because if Kyle doesn’t care for his employees, how can he expect them to care about the guests.
Long Drive-thru Lines
Anyone who has driven by a Chick-fil-A knows that there are often long lines in the drive-thru lanes. While you might say this is a good problem to have, Kyle is trying to combat this issue by taking orders while the customer is in line, so their food will be ready when they get to the window. Chick-fil-A now has a mobile app people can use to order food before they get to the restaurant. And coming soon, the app will include tableside ordering inside the restaurant.
Closed on Sundays
Chick-fil-A has received a lot of bad press recently over being closed on Sunday. Some believe it is because its management is part of the religious right and are trying to politicize the company’s policy. The truth is when Cathy opened their grill in the 1940s, he and his brother kept it open 24/7. Out of exhaustion, they decided to close the grill on Sundays, and that tradition has been a part of the company ever since.
Kyle likes to think it’s good for a person’s mental health to have one day of the week where not one employee must think about the restaurant. And for some reason, the chicken always tastes better after being closed on Sunday.
Connect with Chick-fil-A and Kyle
Stop by the restaurant anytime and ask for Kyle.