Build Your Brand One Step at a Time...

Are you looking for the cheapest way to build your brand? Are you looking for the most effective way to ensure that consumers are satisfied with their experience/product/service and will serve as ambassadors for your brand?

Your answer is: Courtesy.

Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-A, does a tremendous job of detailing ways to build a business based on values in his book, “How Did You Do it, Truett?” The act of courtesy, as Truett explains, is the key to success. Here is an excerpt from his book that details what courtesy can do for your brand:

Be kind to your customers. It’s the key to success. Like the Biblical commandment to love your neighbor as yourself, all the other instructions for success in the restaurant business – or any business – hang on this one. You can’t beat the Golden Rule as a business philosophy: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The theme of our annual business seminar for Chick-Fil-A franchise operators one year was, “Courtesy is cheap, but it pays great dividends.” Courtesy begins by giving you a positive mental attitude about everything you do.

Recently a customer called and said the most outstanding thing had happened to him. He was a regular at the Chick-fil-A Dwarf House restaurant in Fayetteville, Georgia, and after he finished his meal, his waiter told him, “I’m going to pay this bill for you.”

The customer was astounded. Nothing like that had ever happened to him. He asked the waiter if he had understood correctly, and the young man said, “It’s my Christmas gift to you.”

I was in the restaurant a short time later and saw the young waiter. I asked him why he had done such a thing and he said, “Just out of friendship.” Now this is not something I ask or expect from the waiters in our full-service restaurants. But what an impact one boy’s hospitality made on that customer, who has become a cheerleader for our Dwarf House for life!

You can do a lot of things short of giving away food to express hospitality, but the most important thing is to feel in your heart the desire to serve. If you really aren’t interested in serving others, you don’t need to be in the restaurant business in the first place. We like to say we recruit smiles. We can’t teach a sour person to be joyful. Smiles are there because the heart is behind the smile.

What we can do is suggest actions that put smiles on the faces of others. Nothing brings a smile quicker than service that goes beyond the expected. Several years ago I was in a Ritz Carlton hotel, and when I said, “Thank You”, the man helping me smiled genuinely and replied, “My pleasure”.

Those two words and that smile stayed in my thoughts for several days. What a nice way of telling somebody you enjoyed serving them. Too often these days, especially in retail situations, when I say, “Thank You” the response is “No problem.” Or worse, just a grunt. It seems the best I can hope for is “You’re welcome.”

Following my experience at the Ritz Carlton, I asked our Operators, team members, and corporate headquarters employees to say, “My pleasure” whenever someone thanked them. The purpose was not just to change words we say, but to remind those we serve, as well as ourselves, of the servant spirit and “second-mile” orientation we are continually building into our business. You expect that from a five-star hotel, but to have teenagers in a fast food atmosphere saying it’s their pleasure to serve – that’s a real head turner, and it pays great dividends. It distinguished the individual and the company that they represent.

I can’t tell you how many letters we have received in the last five years from customers telling me how courteous our people are. “They even say ‘my pleasure’!” many of them write.

What are some key takeaways from Truett’s business philosophy for sports business professionals?

1. Simple acts of expression can pay HUGE dividends for your organizations - Instill a philosophy to have all employees address customers with “My pleasure” and other simple acts of kindness   

2. Develop mechanisms for transforming your fans and season ticket holders into brand ambassadors - Randomly distribute “Be Our Guest” cards for a free meal, etc. to season ticket holders who frequent concessions stands, gift shops, and parking lots (Too often, these three (3) areas of the stadium experience are where fans feel that teams often take advantage of their wallet)

3. Observe what “good acts” are working for other organizations

4. Identify industry leaders in community service, stadium/arena service, and acts of goodwill that fans have responded strongly to

5. Operate “outside the norm” in our profit-driven society – sacrifice material things for rewards later down the road - Set aside a bucket of money to demonstrate goodwill for fans; unexpected acts of kindness  

6. Listen to your fans to identify concerns and new areas of opportunity

7. Reward fans who complete feedback/suggestion forms with tickets and VIP experience incentives (e.g. special admission to practice, fan fest, pre-game activities, etc.)

8. Drive concessions sales by offering product sampling and taste-testing