Chick-fil-A had a really bad idea. Then found a worse one


Taking advantage?

A screenshot of a Chick-fil-A ad.

Chris Matyszczyk/Screenshot

We are in a management crisis.

Bosses always thought they knew how to be the boss, but with the onset of the pandemic and the tendency for employees to be a little more picky about where they work, bosses’ heads are spinning.

Not always in a healthy direction.

Take Chick-fil-A. A wonderful company in so many ways — business, if not always social.

It has a reputation for attentive customer service, excellent, consistent food, and a hint of aw-shucks rather than aw-sucks.

So what was an Ohio Chick-fil-A thinking when it encouraged customers to flood its drive-thru and break the restaurant’s hour record?

And also on the hot summer day of July 30th.

This can be entertaining for customers – unless, as with many Chick-fil-As, they are stuck in a very long line. This particular Chick-fil-A wanted 163 customers in an hour and enticed them with all sorts of giveaways.

I notice that I am thinking of the employees of the store. When your bosses create a frenzied rush purely for the sake of local publicity, it seems, don’t you feel a little resentful?

Here’s the response to a South Carolina Chick-fil-A creating the same record-breaking madness. In response to a TikTok post that asked, “What have Chick-fil-A employees done to deserve this?” those who have experienced it before had thoughts.

“When I was working at chickfila, the management would yell at us if we didn’t meet our target for the number of cars,” explains one person.

“Left out during a 100+ car heat wave for 11.75 is exactly why I stopped,” mused another.

Then there was this: “We broke the record when I was working there, and we literally got nothing for it.”

Another offered a chilling juxtaposition: “The operators (owners) get a bonus from the company for breaking their record.”

I thought there was something more sacred about Chick-fil-A, so does this really all come down to more earthly desires?

Well, the story of yet another Chick-fil-A might confirm this.

In Henderson, North Carolina, the owner of Chick-fil-A needed more staff. There was, you see, a new Drive-Thru Express opened. Two drive-thru lines are offered here, one specifically for mobile orders.

This Chick-fil-A took to Facebook to find more employees to staff their Express offerings. Actually, the phrase Chick-fil-A used was “volunteers.”

Yes, it wanted people to work without pay. Instead, the incentive was “Earn 5 free entries per shift worked (1 hour).”

Surprisingly, this was not very well received by customers, let alone employees.

First, there was the apparent violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Ah, but who cares about laws these days? What seemed worse was the idea that Chick-fil-A was trying to bribe people with chicken fries and waffles to make the company money.

It seemed less than considerate to some. To others, it seemed less than human.

Indeed, the reaction was so violent that the company’s headquarters against the… Washington Post that the volunteer program no longer existed.

Ominously, Chick-fil-A’s headquarters added that the idea came not from the good bosom, but from the local operator. However, the pressure to make more money certainly came from above.

It’s easy for companies to deny responsibility when they may be pressuring every operator to make more money. They could put pressure on any operator when, say, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy confesses that a third of drive-thru customers leave without buying because the lines are too long. Hence the glory of Drive-Thru Express.

Management by pressure is not always the best approach.

Sometimes management can work better through motivation, inspiration and empathy.

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