The Value of Good Employees: Chick-fil-A showing the best of private sector employment

The biggest difference between workers in the private sector and those in the public is the monopolization of effort that is typically associated with a lack of options. In the private sector there is a lot of competition whereas the public has virtually none. Scientists, teachers, IRS service representatives from the top to bottom get a check whether or not they perform so they are not motivated to do a good job. In the private sector there are other options and a check only comes if the product or service rendered is one that people actually want. Private sector work actually demands performance and those who excel do so because the product they offer is superior to other attempts of a similar value.

I thought I was in for a tough time the other day when I visited the Chick-fil-A at Bridgewater Falls near my Ohio home. My wife and I waited until about 2 PM to visit so that the lunch crowd would die down a bit, but the parking lot was still full. Parking next to us was a couple of “wigger boys” with their pants pulled down to look like rap artists complete with neck tats and a girlfriend belonging to one of them—maybe both. I typically go to nicer places just to avoid those types of people. But this particular Chick-fil-A is near the Hamilton/Fairfield border and there are a lot of these types of people coming from the government subsidized homes in that area—so you tend to bump in to them at the Bridgewater location. But I wanted a chicken sandwich so my wife and I went in any way.

The scank boys and their trashy girlfriend complete with a baby tucked into something that looked like a purse took one look at the crowded dinning room and said, “fu** this” and turned around to walk out. I gladly held the door open for them to leave happy to see them go. As they walked by they smelled like cigarettes, pot, and spit. I watched them walk like penguins across the parking lot back to their car to make sure they didn’t open their door into my own car out of disrespect. Once they were gone, my wife and I resumed our visit to Chick-fil-A.

I had just been thinking about those “wigger boys” trying to emulate a government subsidized African-American existence that has fed the rap culture with so much negativity when a young man of color stood at the counter to take our order. He was excessively polite, well-spoken and very clean-cut. His voice sounded like it belonged on the radio with a deep resonance that held behind each word an articulation of confidence that came from nowhere else but from within a complete personality. He said “sir,” to me about ten times in 2 minutes and was extremely professional. He even wiped the overflow off our drinks as he prepared them. Everything he did the attendant did with professional flair and an appreciation for the quality of his work. He was marvelous.

Chick-fil-A typically has better employees than other similar fast food restaurants which is clearly a by-product of their recruiting practices. But this guy was excessively good even compared to Chick-fil-A employees. I continued to be impressed as we were given our food and I turned to find a table I had been looking at recently vacated, and still dirty. I had been thinking of cleaning off that table so we could sit down—because it was rather messy. But before I could perform the task a woman in her middle years was already there wiping it down clean. She even got on the floor and hand-picked bits of food that had fallen there so that it wouldn’t be messy around our feet. That further impressed me. We sat down and I watched the woman who promptly went behind the counter to wash her hands. For a fleeting second I had the feeling that mankind wasn’t falling off the edge of the earth into an abyss that it will never recover from. I was delighted.

The articulate attendant continued to take orders from the line that continued to be nearly out the door. With each customer he showed the same interest in perfection and left his customers with a fulfillment well above the standard for a fast food experience. As I thought about him, and Chick-fil-A in general I had to contemplate what drew us to the restaurant as opposed to the Chilis just across the pond from our location, or the Wendy’s down the road mixed with an Arbys, Frisch’s, Subway, Pizza Hut and even an Applebee’s all located nearby. At that hour even the Chilis restaurant had a nearly empty parking lot—but Chick-fil-A was full. And the employees seemed excited about working there. The food after all was pretty average. I mean its good, fresh and there’s a decent variety, but the Chick-fil-A experience is different and that seemed to be more of what was drawing people in than anything.

A large part of that experience which sets apart Chick-fil-A is the quality of their employees—which directly carries over into their food and overall environment. It is obvious that Chick-fil-A puts an emphasis on quality employees and this gives them a market advantage over everyone else. It also helps that they stay so busy that quality people tend to be drawn to the place to avoid the scum bags and skanks that are found everywhere else. In the case of my experience, the disenchanted social misfits decided they didn’t want to brave the crowd, but as I looked around most of the people in the dining room were pretty clean-cut types who looked like they might attend church often—and likely took an interest in the lives of their families. It probably had more to do with why those “wigger boys” and their “hoe bag” decided to leave because they felt uncomfortable with the environment. They would be more at home at a Taco Bell, or a White Castle where half the workers behind the counter looked the same as they did.

I’ve worked on the other side of the food counter for a long time and I know what goes on. When I buy food if I see someone working in the kitchen covered in tattoos and looking like they belong in a rap video I am likely to be careful what I order and I will watch them prepare it. It’s not practical to expect a low quality person to prepare food for your own sustenance. Garbage in tends to make garbage—so I am usually careful about stuff like that. I have an extreme reluctance of going through drive thru windows for that very reason.   I like to see what I’m buying and I don’t trust people I can’t see to do the right thing. We are dealing with an entire generation raised on movies like Jack Ass and shows like Beavis and Butthead and they think it’s funny to spit in food and rub their body parts on what we put in our mouths. At Chick-fil-A I have much more trust in the food making process than I do someplace else—especially Taco Bell. McDonald’s I trust more just because they have been the best at taking the human element out of the food making process. There are many fewer opportunities for food tampering at McDonald’s than there is at Burger King or Wendy’s. But Chick-fil-A is the best of them all and they still do a lot of traditional food prep.

A Chick-fil-A would never occur with government workers at the helm. If the restaurant were unionized it would also not have the same level of service. It would at that point be just another chicken place—it would lose its special appeal—its value. Government workers and those coming from union mentality households tend to believe that jobs were created so that employees can buy flat screen televisions and play video games all day—that a job is just something that gives them a check at the end of the week instead of a privilege for earning a living based on their individual merit. It is because Chick-fil-A understands how to recruit and keep good employees that they have such a market edge over a very competitive marketplace.

Whenever I go to Disney World with my family one of the things I most look forward to is the treatment of the customer anywhere within the vast complex in Orlando, Florida. The employees are always very professional and enthusiastic about their jobs, which allow customers to buy into the fantasy setting they try to create. Negative people are a deterrent from positive thought processes, and at Disney World negativity would destroy the fun world created by the theme parks. So I actually look forward more to the positive environment by the workers than of the rides and attractions themselves. But at Chick-fil-A I get the same without the extraordinary expense. And that is what is so magical about the fast food giant. And I have to thank that young man who made my experience so much better recently—who was so much better than the average Chick-fil-A employee—which is saying a lot. He created such a positive environment that he elevated the personal work ethic of all those around him and that is the most marvelous gift of all. It was why that restaurant was still packed even as the other restaurants in the area were preparing for their dinner rush. Chick-fil-A at Bridgewater Falls hadn’t yet stopped being busy from lunch, and the way things looked, they weren’t going to get a break. But the employees stayed positive anyway, which is what makes them so much more special.

Rich Hoffman