Singular Focus

The first Chick-fil-A sandwich I ever ate was more than 30 years ago in Ft. Worth. The father of a guy I knew was their regional franchise director – and I stopped in soon after he told me about it. That was the first of at least a dozen visits a year, so it’s safe to say, I’ve eaten more than 300 of them… each served with a couple dill pickle chips on top.

While Chick-fil-A expanded its menu over the decades, the classic crispy fried chicken breast sandwich is still the best seller. Those ‘Eat mor Chikin’ cows in the television commercials and on billboards around the country know a good thing when they see it.

Recently I read the average Chick-fil-A does more than $3 million in sales annually. That’s a lot of sandwiches at $3 each. I’ve heard the location right by our house is one of the best in the system… and since there is a line nonstop from early morning, through rush-time lunch, mid-afternoon and well into the dinner hours, their sales must be amazing. (Imagine if they opened on Sundays!)

In contrast, the franchise that started the chicken craze way back in the 50’s with its secret recipe – despite a recent run of television spots featuring well-known actors impersonating the Colonel – averages just under $1 million per location. KFC (rebranded to lessen the Fried focus) doesn’t quite meet the AAAA grade of its rival.

The lesson here comes straight out of Jack Palance in “City Slickers”. Find your one thing and do it really well. Multiple that by 2,000+ locations and you impact a lot of people with a smiling “Welcome to Chick-fil-A” and a cheery “My pleasure to serve you” sendoff.

Note: About 10 years ago, I started ordering the healthier grilled version on most visits to Chick-fil-A. Getting older has its drawbacks.


Holding Pattern

When we moved to Houston, we chose cable for our television service. Just short of eight years later we switched to satellite… and frequently endured the dreaded ‘lost signal’ disruption during torrential downpours.

Over the next nine years, our monthly bill continually drifted upward… topping $135 recently – without any premium channels. (Yes, I called regularly to request decreases, and the “$5 off for six months” offers didn’t meet my expectations.)

After a lot of research and a trip to Best Buy to ask questions, I decided to cut the cord and cut the cost. Then I realized that transition would be a big time commitment during one of my busiest seasons, so we switched back to cable to save $50 every month.

Today, George from AT&T arrived promptly at 9 a.m. for the installation, which was ‘expected to take 2-4 hours.’ He left at 7 p.m. – accompanied by a senior service rep, Theo, who joined him midway through the arduous process. They ultimately determined our 18-year-old wiring didn’t provide the necessary signal strength and replaced it.

George never took a break during the 10-hour ordeal… although I did make him a ham and turkey sandwich that he munched on between multiple trips up and down our staircase, into the attic and out to the wiring box. He also never complained nor appeared frustrated, and when he shook my hand to leave said: “This has been a great learning experience for me.”

Attitude is an essential piece of success – in sports, in work, in health. Something tells me George is going to excel in life.


Auto Repaired

Two weeks ago I was reviewing our checking account balance online when I noticed two charges for our monthly car lease. Kathy tried to call about it throughout the day and continually received a busy signal. The next morning an email arrived explaining they were testing a new payment processing system when “a number of Honda Financial Services customer accounts were mistakenly debited.”

They immediately refunded the charges – and a few days later a letter arrived from a Senior VP that included:

“I am writing… to apologize for our mistake… I deeply regret the inconvenience and potential hardship this has created for you… This is not acceptable and we understand that this does not meet your expectations… We are doing everything in our power to make it right… You are our number one priority.”

They also offered to reimburse any subsequent costs incurred because of their error.

Things happen in every business. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. Somebody messed up and somebody has to clean up. Eventually it will be your turn. Learn from this excellent recovery. Many times, if you handle the back-end right, customers will forgive you.

We’ve purchased five Hondas over the years… and will continue to be loyal to the brand.


Lessons Learned – #3

We’re to the top 3 most important lessons I learned this year:

Environmental Marketing – Some creative types are encouraging clients to start advertising at people’s feet – and not just the colorful printed ones you see in grocery stores. With ‘clean graffiti,’ power washing sidewalks around a stencil removes some dirt and leaves behind an ad. Still too early to know if this approach drives major sales; however, it definitely would freshen up the front of your building.


Lessons Learned – #9

The #9 best lesson I learned this year…

Backhanded Bonus – A few weeks ago, we received a postcard from DirecTV. Thinking it was an offer for new subscribers – and since we’ve been a customer for a decade – I skimmed past. Kathy picked it up and realized the satellite provider actually was gifting us NFL Sunday Ticket through the end of the regular season. That’s a nice gesture… until you read the fine print. Seems if we ‘fail to cancel’ before the first game of 2016, our credit card will be charged the full price for next season. Talk about having strings attached.