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Quality Must Come First

In this episode, Arthur (Owner of two Chick-fil-A franchises) and Clay Clark (US Chamber National Blue Ribbon Quality Award Winner) discuss why quality must come first on Thrive15.com, one of the top business schools in PA.

Clay:    All right, Arthur, today we are talking about quality and why quality must come first. Before we get into it, I just want to thank you for being here.

Arthur:    My pleasure.

Clay:    Every time you are here I get a little more excited than I should be and I have to just pull off that excitement a little bit. Back off a little bit.

Arthur:    I understand.

Clay:    Yeah. In that way I can relate to most people. I just get euphoria every time I see you. Here we go, Arthur. Today we are talking about quality and why it must come first. You own Chick-fil-A restaurants.

Arthur:    Yup.

Clay:    You own two of these guys.

Arthur:    Yup.

Clay:    You guys are producing massive amounts of quality chicken per day. Just real talk for you. Those of you who have been on the planet for a few years might have seen a news story occasionally about people get e.coli and this horrible thing happens. Even one slip up at a restaurant in terms of food quality and food preparation can get on the news.

Arthur:    Yup.

Clay:    That's a big PR tip almost. If you want to get on the news just serve up some e.coli to some customers and you get famous.

Arthur:    Yeah, I don't think Jack-In-The-Box will feel the same way. 

Clay:    All right. I mean it's not a good thing. I want to make sure that we're hearing this because if you're watching this and you're struggling to keep the quality of your product or service high, nobody can relate to you and the challenges of doing this more than this guy. Because how many customers do you see every day?

Arthur:    Right around 2,000.

Clay:    Two thousand people. Two thousand people, 2,000 orders coming in, getting the food they want and it's awesome. Now, with the customers that you see there on a daily basis, I know at Chick-fill-et your goal is to wow.

Arthur:    Mm-hmm. (Affirmative).

Clay:    Your goal is to always treat people the way you'd want to be treated, but you guys do it. IT's not just a goal, but you actually do it.

Arthur:    Right.

Clay:    Now Jeff Bezos, this is the founder of Amazon, he says, "If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful." How have you personally seen the quality of service in food that you provide work to your benefit in terms of like how is the quality of food and the quality of service that you provide day in, day out, how have you seen that help you grow your business?

Arthur:    Well, I think the biggest thing is consistency. Is that people get to where they know when they come to Chick-fil-A that they're going to get a great sandwich and a great environment and they're going to be treated right. 

    I've heard stories of people where when they're going on trips they will seek out Chick-fil-A's because they know what they're going to walk into. Unfortunately, a lot of restaurants, even some chains, you don't know what you're going to walk into. 

Clay:    If you're watching this right now and you are the kind of person that looks for a Chick-fil-A on a road trip, you can just go ahead and put your hand up. It's not super weird. That's huge. People do this. I know ladies who will say, "Let's find a Chick-fil-A so I can find a restroom." 

Arthur:    Correct.

Clay:    "Let's stop at a Chick-fil-A so I can find a clean restroom." That's huge. I won't mention the name of the place, but there was one deli located near a place where I used to office and the lady who owned the place, she was a nice lady. Nice lady, hardworking lady, I'm sure. Her team never served me something twice in a row that was good. 

    Meaning I went there two times and one of those two times I would always have bad food. Something was gross. The lettuce was old school or the carbonated beverages were wrong. There was just always something wrong one out of two times.

    For someone like this, maybe you're watching right now and you're that person where you're like, "You know what? We make great barbecue half the time. Fifty percent of the time we are awesome 100% of the time." If you're watching this and that's you, and I know we've all been there before, what advice would you have to give somebody who's having a hard time keeping their quality control consistency high?

Arthur:    Well, I would look at what are the systems that you have in place to make sure that the quality control is there. A lot of places like the deli you mentioned, first of all, some of them don't even know that it exists. I'll talk to people and they'll share with me, "Oh, yeah. I never thought about doing something like that." 

    All the high end chains like Quik Trip, we've talked about Quik Trip before. Quick Trip has a mystery shopper that will mystery shop their employees to make sure they're doing what's right. Then they have a mystery shopper that will mystery shop the mystery shopper to make sure it's done right.

Clay:    Mm-hmm. (Affirmative).

Arthur:    They just have a built-in system to make the quality is what it's supposed to be. 

Clay:    I would say an action step that anybody watching this right now can do is make sure that whatever your recipe is, whether it's a restaurant or it's a call center or an insurance agency or a roofing company, make sure your recipe for what makes your company successful is not just in your head.

Arthur:    That's right.

Clay:    Make sure it's written down, recorded onto a checklist. That's one action step that we can all do. Now, Arthur, why is it at your store, the quality control has stayed high for years? Do you fight on a daily basis with newer employees or employees that aren't performing? 

    Do you kind of fight the good fight to keep quality high? Is it a daily battle to make sure that the old chicken gets tossed out and the new chicken gets put in? Is it every day you're fighting to keep the quality high?

Arthur:    Yes.

Clay:    Really? You've been doing this for how many years?

Arthur:    Twenty five years. You know what? Almost every time I think okay, we're going to create a new system to make sure this is right and this one will work and this one will be here forever. It's not. It's just you're always dealing with different dynamics, different personalities, different people, different chemistries, new things in the restaurant. It's going to be a constant thing.


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