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Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
  • Lesson Nugget: Determine what you want your business to feel, look, sound, and smell like. Then implement checklists to ensure the experience stays that way.
  • Lesson Nugget: When setting up "customer experience" systems, start from what the customers first sees the then work inward.
  • Lesson Nugget: To maintain daily operation excellence, you must script out the experience of your customer.
  • Ask Yourself: Is the customer experience scripted out in a way that makes it easy to connect with them?
  • Ask Yourself: Do my employees/team members have the tools needed to make it easy to connect with customers?
  • Editor's Note: Ask us any business questions you have by clicking the "Ask our Mentors any Business Question" in the bottom right.

-Over the years, I have interviewed countless success stories on top level entrepreneurs. Business coaching lesson: And many have talked about designing an ideal experience or reality for the customer and scripting out the ideal customer service, in terms of what the customer sees, hears, smells, is said to the customer. Can you guide me through the Chick-fil-A experience and customer service training there? Because I want to go ahead and script it out on here.


-So let me see if I can find how to do some business coaching here. So at Chick-fil-A-- I'm just going to get into this really quickly. At Chick-fil-A, we're going to get into the business coaching of how you make this awesome experience on a daily basis. When I walk in to Chick-fil-A and I come into the store-- so if I'm a customer, and I am walking into the store, what is the first thing you want me to experience maybe even before I get into the store if I'm a customer?

-Well, what does it look like on the outside?

-OK. So you're talking about the outside, the actual look of the building?

-Well, let's go even further. What does the parking lot look like? What does the bushes around the parking lot look like?


-What do our signs look like? How many times you go to a gas station, and the signs are like somebody threw a baseball through it or something?

-Business coaching advice: So you have a checklist for all these things-- the parking, the bushes, the signs to make sure that everyday, it looks sharp?


CLAY CLARK: So once I get in and then I'm in the door, what about the outside windows?

-We just work our way backwards. We go from all the way outside and work our way in. Windows-- you know what kind of systems do we have for the windows to make sure those are being cleaned on a regular basis? Now, for us, it's generally not my staff. I will pay somebody to come in and clean them on a regular basis, because they're equipped for that.

-OK. So you make sure the windows are nice. And once I come in, I came from the outside. I've walked through the nice parking lot. I've seen the nice, kept bushes. I go through the signs. I see the beautiful windows that are clean. Then I come up to the front desk. Then what do I see? Do you script what they should say when they meet somebody?

-We do. First of all, as soon as they walk in the door, they should be greeted, welcome to Chick-fil-A.

-What am I supposed to say? What are they supposed to say, welcome to Chick-fil-A?

-Yeah, well what we tell them is make sure you greet them. And generally, it's welcome to Chick-fil-A, or how are you today? Or we give the employees the ability to improvise, depend on what's going on. If there happens to be snow outside and they're walking in, probably the first thing you're going to say is, whoo, it's cold go out there, or something.


-Business coaching tip: What we want is them to connect. OK. So you want a greeting, is what you're looking for from you guys. And then after that, I make my way over to the next phase, which is going to be to the actual ordering.


-So I'm greeted before I even order, right?

ARTHUR GREENO: Absolutely.

-OK. Then when I order, what do you want me to experience in a utopic situation?

-Well, the first thing is we're going to make eye contact with them.

-OK. So you're going to make eye contact. What else?

-And then we're going to smile.

-Smile? You actually teach this?


-OK. Smile. What's next?

-We're going to speak with an enthusiastic tone.

-OK. Enthusiasm, great.

-And then throughout the entire transaction, our goal is to stay connected.

-OK. So we're going to make sure that we connect. Now, business coaching for the next thing. Let's say that the food is it instantly ready, because it's being prepared or something. What do you do next?

-Then what we would do is depending on the time of day or what's going on, you're saying, instantly ready. So then I'd have to go take it. So we would give them their food, again, give them instructions on where the condiments may be.


-Now, if they are somebody that needs assistance, we're going to encourage-- if it took any length of time at all, like even 30 seconds, we may say, if you'd like to go have a seat, we'll be happy to bring it out to you.


-And then at that point, we will go and get their condiments and bring them their trays.

-OK. Now, I've been there before. I've been at your place specifically, where some guys come by and drop by samples. I've seen people drop by balloons for my kids. How does that happen?

-Those are tools for us to stay connected with them, because especially when you're dealing with a lot of team members that may be teenagers or others, they may not feel confident just walking up and striking up a conversation.


-So by giving them balloons, by giving them pepper grinders, by giving them free refills, it's a way for us to engage with that customer.

-So refills. That's going to be balloons. That's going to be pepper.


-But all this is really done this to continue-- it's tools to connect, right?



Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 2
  • Lesson Nugget: Great companies systematically go over even the most common of expectations with their employees.
  • Notable Quotable: "Customers don't buy products or services. They buy results."- The Service Profit Chain
  • Lesson Nugget: Good systems make it possible for good people to consistently produce a good product.
  • Did You Know?: You can hear Lee talk about this concept and more in his training on customer service, right here on the thrive15.com website!
  • Notable Quotable: "...what Schlesinger and his colleagues called the 'cycle of failure' practiced by many of Au Bon Pain's competitors who paid their employees and managers low wages, offered them little training and other support, and suffered high turnover of employees and limited customer loyalty as a result."- Failure Cycle (The Service Profit Chain)



-Now, so these are the systems that really create the "wow." And for a lot of business owners watching this business coaching episode here, if they've never scripted this out, do you have that all scripted out in a book here? Is that what you have here?

-We do. We do. For our crew, what we do with ours is we have what we call a two-week follow-up book. And what we do with that book is, when somebody starts working for us for two weeks, we will-- if they cut the mustard in the first two weeks-- we will sit down with them. Actually, I will sit down with them. And I'll go over what our expectations are.

And we'll kind of go over these things and say, here's the tools. And in this book, we actually print out, here's the tools, here's the scenarios. Now, we want you to try to figure out what would work. Like for a business coaching example, umbrellas. Well, what would you do with umbrellas? Well, if it's raining unexpectedly, you grab an umbrella, and you walk a customer to the car.

-And these are things that you do at Chick-fil-A?

-Yeah. These are all different things. Now, we don't limit them. If they have things that they want to do, we will allow them to do that. But we're giving them things to kind of get the creative juices flowing.

-And I'm only highlighting this because I think there's a lot of people watching this who might be going, well, this is kind of stupid. It feels like a coloring book or something. And I'm going to tell you, the great companies I've seen, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Disney, this is what they do. They create these neat workbooks and things.

The cynic out there says, well, why do you need a workbook? Isn't it common sense to offer an umbrella to somebody? Or isn't it common sense-- well, if it's so common, why is that almost every business in America doesn't do it?

I mean, right now if you're watching this business coaching episode, you know that a Chick-fil-A is something that you're excited about. I mean, unless you've got an axe to grind with Chick-fil-A, I mean, as a general rule, most people live Chick-fil-A. And most people love Disney. Most people love these companies. Starbucks. It's because they have these systems in place.

Now, creating the checklist to turn your ideal into reality. In the book, The Service Profit Chain, that these Harvard professors spent countless hours studying some of America's top companies including Southwest Airlines and UPS. And this is what they wrote. Customers don't buy products or services. Business coaching truth: They buy results. Again, customers don't buy products or services. They buy results. What does that mean to you in Chick-fil-A?

-Well, what that means to me is that we can have the greatest product. We can have the greatest people. But if we can't make them work together, it's not going to matter. And then the result is, because of the systems we have in place, we have a great quality food. Well, if it doesn't work, then it doesn't matter. They're not going to buy it.

-Now, have you-- and I'm going to read this to you. I think this is huge. It says, in the book, The Service Profit Chain, they go on to explain this thing they call the failure cycle. And I think you'll know what I'm talking about when I read this. The failure cycle. And they say this is what they find in most businesses today. So if you're watching this, and you find this in your company, it's not that you're a bad person. It's just this is what most companies do.

"What Schlesinger and his colleagues called the 'cycle of failure' is practiced by many companies today who paid their employees and managers low wages, offered them little training and other support, and suffered high turnover of employees and limited customer loyalty as a result." So poor pay, poor training, poor performance. That negative cycle.


-You've seen this a lot, I'm sure.

-I have. I have.

-So how is-- I'm just going to go through specifically. How is Chick-fil-A different in terms of the amount of training you put into the employees? If I come to work for you, how many hours of training do I get with you in the first, let's say, 30 days?

-So you get there, and if you're, say, working out front, you probably won't even see the front-- or I'm sorry, you would not be handling with a customer alone for three or four days.

-Wow. OK, so I don't even get a chance to see the customer up front for three or four days.

-Well, you'd be able see them. But your job is to shadow somebody, to work with somebody who's experienced in it, to see how the interaction takes place. If you show the wherewithal to be able to, for example, give someone a refill and smile, we're going to allow you to do that. But it's the trainers job to make sure that you're ready.

-Lee Cockerell, the Disney World famous former executive vice president, he says, don't practice on your customers.

-That's right.

-Business coaching lesson: What you're saying is you train people before they're supposed to get out there and perform.


-OK. Now also, poor pay. I don't know that Chick-fil-A pays the highest or the lowest. I don't know that. You started off at the very bottom. What was your title?



-Six dollars an hour.

-How old were you?

-I was 19 years old.

-OK. 19 years old. You're a cashier?

-Yes, sir.

-When did you take over your own Chick-fil-A?

-It was about three years after that that I took over.

-Walk me through that process

-OK. In that situation, I had started with Chick-fil-A, and I was working as a cashier. Business coaching truth: And it's amazing how when you show up on time, and you do the work that's asked, how a lot of times you can get promoted pretty easily.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 3
  • Lesson Nugget: Figure out where you want to go, then figure out what tools you need to be able to get there.
  • Lesson Nugget: Great companies provide ways for people who excel in their daily operations to move up, and be paid more.
  • Lesson Nugget: Asking people who are where you want to be is often a great way to know which tools you need to be able to get there.
  • Lesson Nugget: It's not the SPECIFIC tools that guarantee success, it's consistently excelling with the systems that you have, and incrementally improving those systems along the way.


-Business coaching lesson: By showing up on time, doing the work that's asked, you're getting promoted pretty easily.

-I know. And what's amazing is how many people won't show up on time, or won't do a task. I got promoted to a team leader, and at that point I started thinking, well, I want to be assistant manager, or I want to be the manager. So I was, like, what are the tools that I need to be looking at in order to get there? So I looked at those, got with the owner, and we started taking those steps.

-Did Chik-fil-A identify for you some kind of career path, like if you want to own a story here, what should you have to do?

-Chik-fil-A, Incorporated did not, mainly because it's actually easier to get into the CIA than it is Chik-fil-A. It's pretty hard to get into Chik-fil-A.


-It's because they have about 10,000 applications to fill 60 spots a year, so they have to look for the fastest way to tell someone no, without being disrespectful. They don't want to drag you thinking you're going to go on with Chik-fil-A when you may be more suited to be an engineer or something else. That's kind of how Chik-fil-A works. So when I was interested in being an operator, I was asking all the other owners. When the owners would come into our store, I'd be, like, hey, I want to be an operator-- what did you do? I was constantly saying, tell me about this, tell me about this. I would hear things about different books that they were reading, and I'd go grab those books, so I would learn what I could here and there.

-So with Chik-fil-A, you guys have set up a system where you train people well, and people can move up and own their own store, if they're there long enough or they--

-Yeah. There are other factors involved in that as well, but yeah, you can certainly work your way up to management.

-It's a realistic dream.

-It is. And does it pay pretty well if you're a manager?

-Yes, very well. Way above the average.

-OK, way above the average. Just so I get an eye for a ballpark and not so much dollar amount. How much more this is it than the average if you're a Chik-fil-A manager?

-Compared to some of the other fast food place I've had?


-70% to 100%.

-More? OK. Now Chik-fil-A corporate-- you guys have some really, really great leadership up there. Are there checklists they provide to you guys as a local store owner to make sure that we ultimately don't ever get to a point where we're not delivering? Because it says here that customers don't buy products or services, they buy results. Business coaching question: Is there a checklist they give you to make sure that you're not ever missing the mark and failing to deliver results?

-Yes. Chik-fil-A have some standard checklists for us to use. Now since every store is pretty much owned and operated differently, I may do something a little bit different than someone else. For a business coaching example, not every store gives out balloons. So on my checklist it's going to say, do we have the balloons we need? Do we have the helium we need? What days do we give out balloons? So if you were to walk in off the street, they could give you the system to do that, but if you've been there for a length of time, your systems probably don't look like what Chik-fil-A handed you years ago.

-If I'm a business r right now, and again, in America today, probably 9 out of 10 business owners don't have a checklist. If I don't have any checklists, or if I'm willing to start a business and I don't know where to go to create a Chik-fil-A- style checklist?

-Walk me through some business coaching on what I should begin doing to make this checklist. Let's just say that I don't know what to do. I know I need to keep my parking lot clean. I know I need to keep my bushes looking clean. I know I need to make sure my signage works. Where do you start, Arthur, to make a checklist?

-Well, just like what you said. You look at the things that you need to cover first, and just start making a list. Parking lot, bushes, sign-- whatever it may be.

-OK, so you're just brainstorming out that list.

-Absolutely, and a lot of times, it'll take us two or three revisions. When I'm making a checklist for my team, I will make a list, and then I'll give it to them and say, guys, punch it full of holes. So they'll come back and go, well, this is stupid, but you forgot about this and this. So it may take two or three revisions probably within the first week to really start getting it honed in.

-Now what I've heard in the world of entrepreneurship is there's a great business coaching book called The Start-up Playbook. One of the things they talk about here is that every successful entrepreneur basically does these four steps over and over. What they do is they define what they want to do first-- that's Step 1. Then we act. Business coaching lesson: So you came up a checklist, then you act. Then you measure the results, then you refine.

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