My office is located in Peachtree Corners, Georgia and for as long as I can remember, there’s been a Chick-fil-A right around the corner. I’ve loved having it there because it’s a tremendously convenient and great-tasting option for when I need something good to eat and quickly get back to the office. In fact, the drive-thru’s always really impressed me, on the rare occasion that I don’t go in. Around lunch time the line almost always wraps around the store. That said, the efficiency of their execution is spectacular. After I place my order and drive around, I hand the guy my debit card - and now the real magic happens - he hands me my food, swipes my card and hands me my receipt in one big fluid motion!

Back in November, I watched in horror as bulldozers starting plowing my creature comfort chicken chain down to the ground. I drove by, looked out my window and saw nothing but collapsed building, dirt and heavy construction equipment. Because I work in the industry and consult with a number of restaurant executives on customer experience, I immediately began doing the math on this. I tried to calculate what this owner operator must be losing in missed sales revenue each month that their store is no more. Then I thought about the cost of the demolition and the expense of building a new one from scratch.

While I don’t know what this particular store’s revenues are, I’m confident that this is a good Chick-fil-A store. It is usually really busy. I’d read a fact about Chick-fil-A restaurants once back in 2014 that their AUV (average unit volume) - annual sales revenue for the year – was approximately $3.1M per store. To put that in perspective, the same store sales volume for KFC restaurants during that time was $960K.  So Chick-fil-A stores 3X similar chicken QSRs. This store is likely higher than average, if the number of cars and people there at lunch are any indication.

I was disappointed that I was going to need to look for other quick lunch options nearby for some unknown period of time, but at the same time, I was struck by the commitment by this brand. They were tearing down this perfectly productive unit to create an ever better experience; larger lobby, more efficient drive thru and cleaner/newer building materials. I immediately contrasted that to the practice of some restaurant organizations that allow their operators to run lifestyle businesses simply extracting cash out of the unit. Never investing in the asset. Never upskilling their people. Never giving consumers a new reason to experience the brand again. 

Kudos to Chick-fil-A and this particular operator for their commitment to continual improvement and an almost maniacal focus on delivering the optimal customer experience. They know that this kind of investment has the very best ROI; it protects the brand’s reputation, it delights customers and enables them to make more money. I cannot think of a more effective strategy.

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