Teaching Should Be More Like Chick-Fil-A

As a converted southerner (out of 8 states I have lived in, 3 have been in the south), I have a tremendous love for the delicious and highly addictive food chain, Chick-Fil-A . If you have never heard about this company before, let me give you a quick run-down.

Chick-Fil-A: The Company

CFA is a family owned business of 50+ years founded by Truett Cathy and headquartered out of Georgia with restaurants in 46 states. Many attributes set this chain restaurant apart from it’s competitors, but most notably is their ‘Closed on Sundays’ policy. Due to being in the 24/7 business, CFA founders felt it necessary to take a day of rest (and worship) and have been honoring this policy since the beginning. Although I admire this policy, I HATE it because I tend to crave CFA on no other day but Sunday. Want in on the action? You can get a guided walking tour to learn all things CFA. Click here to purchase tickets.

Secondly, if you have ever passed by a CFA you most definitely noticed the longest lines in America, wrapping around buildings and casting out into the main road. But have no fear! CFA leads the industry in innovative thinking with sending their staff out into the drive-thru line with iPads to speed up ordering and payment. I have to admit, I have never been more excited to see a long line because I know I will be served in record timing (and with a smile!).

If this hasn’t convinced you yet to give them a try, just know that they have won numerous awards for their delicious chicken entrees (handmade and cage free) and phenomenal customer service, counting ‘Best Places to Work.’ CFA calls their customers by name numerous times during a visit, they are polite and courteous while providing a service, are pleasant while completing their daily job duties, and are willing to make it right if a mix-up occurs. Furthermore, the foundation of their business model is on giving:

“Everyone’s job at Chick-fil-A is to serve. No matter our title or job description, our reason for coming to work is to generously share our time and talents. Whether it’s treating customers like friends, or serving our communities like neighbors, we believe kindness is a higher calling.”

Well done CFA, well done. You made me feel like more than a customer, you made me feel like I mattered. Every. Single. Time.

Chick-Fil-A’s Connection to Education

One day, as I was sitting and enjoying a yet another amazing meal from CFA, I started thinking about why this place is so wildly successful, as testified above. Then I started thinking about how these same characteristics could transform education as we know it if we could apply the same thinking to our current situations.

  • Work Harder, But Less Often– Although closing for business on Sundays is already in place for most school systems, there are some districts already applying the work harder less often logic with a shortened school week with extended hours Monday-Thursday (an extra hour or two per day). Providing Friday off from teaching students encourages staff to rejuvenate while also having increased time to better plan and prepare lessons or attend professional development. This schedule change is in efforts to increas teacher performance in the classroom which of course positively affects student achievement.
  • Innovative Thinking– Incorporating iPads for efficiency, just like CFA, is already a best practice in most schools to help differentiate learning for students. It requires less physical preparation on part of the teacher and makes managing student learning outcomes less time consuming. This is a great first step, but educators can make more tweaks to their systems to become more efficient. Just like CFA saw that their lines were long and created an efficient, innovative solution, schools should problem solve their own unique inefficiencies with similar innovative thinking. Examples could include:
    • If attendance is an issue, allow students to log in remotely to access instruction.
    • If the car line is too long, make two lanes for k-2 and 3-5 students so that safety is the utmost priority for the little ones without slowing down the progress of others.
    • If the lunch line is slow causing less eating time, invest in bar codes for payment, wrapped plastic ware for convenience and easy to consume food.
  • Up the Customer Service– Many might disagree with me, but education is in fact a business. We must think about how to better the experience for every student. With CFA basing their business model on giving, whether it’s to the customer or the community, they have set themselves apart as an upstanding company and as a profitable business. Schools and districts can apply this same thinking to the design of their curricular programs, staffing structures and community outreach models. Teachers are the face of education and are the first line of defense in customer service. Teachers can greet students by name at the door when they enter to let them know their desire to show up and learn is appreciated. Throughout the day, teachers can continue to address students by name to remind them that they are cared for so much  that they purposely are included in the learning experience. While teaching or interacting politely with staff members and the community, teachers can have a smile on their face that says ‘I enjoy performing my daily duties.’ Lastly, if a student cannot be reached or a mishap occurs, teachers can make it their priority to get it right, no matter how many hours they have to devote to help a child learn.

As far as I am concerned, we should treat students and their families like Chick-Fil-A treats it’s customers- make better use of our time, provide innovative solutions to everyday problems, and personalize the learning experience for every student every day. Maybe just then we can transform education as we know it.

In your opinion, in what other ways could we improve the educational experience for students?


About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.