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The Story of How Chick-fil-A Borrowed “My Pleasure” from a Luxury Hotel

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
June 7, 2023 3:02 am

The Story of How Chick-fil-A Borrowed “My Pleasure” from a Luxury Hotel

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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June 7, 2023 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, the origins of Chick-fil-A’s “my pleasure” catchphrase began in 2001. Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy’s version of the story begins with him visiting a Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel—a hotel his friend Horst Schulze co-founded. Here's Horst with the story.

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Exclusions apply. And we continue with our American stories. And up next, a story about a founder. And we love to tell founders' stories here on the show. We love to tell stories of people who turn nothing into something.

And here the storyteller is Horst Schulze, who co-founded the Ritz-Carlton Hotels in 1983 here in America. And this story has a lot to do with service. It has a lot to do with customers. And it has to do also with a fellow Atlanta founder, Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, and where the phrase my pleasure came from. We all talk about service.

Let me define service for a moment. It starts the instant you make contact. It doesn't start a second later. It starts, in fact, within nine feet.

Why? Because within nine feet, you make decisions about somebody and they make a decision about you. So it starts with a great welcome. Welcome. And then it continues with complying to the guests' wishes. And that complying is very simply that.

I'm in that moment. It's not about me anymore. It's not about my company. It's about my customer. I'm now here to help that customer to make the right decision for him or her. That's how I'm complying. I'm here to be an assistant to that guest to make a great decision for themselves. And then it ends by saying farewell. That is service.

Welcome, comply, farewell. Now, when people talk about a great service, ask them to define it. You haven't even given a thought what it is. That's why you don't receive it. They receive it if somebody happens to, if you happen to be lucky and you happen to hit a nice person. Not by the sign of the organization.

And that is wrong. It has to be designed by the organization that there is service delivery. That means attention for the benefit of our customer. You know my relationship with Chick-fil-A, you know, and then Kathy, who is, of course, Chick-fil-A is an exception company, exception people. Dan asked me one day to have you, he tells a story slightly different.

I know that I'm right how I tell it, but they're very close the same to two stories. One day he asked me, have you been in Chick-fil-A? I said, sure.

So what do you think? I said, well, you're the best of a lousy lot. And he said, what?

He said, well, you're not great, but you're better than the rest of them. And we discussed that. And then, of course, he asked me to kind of teach people and deal with them.

And we did a lot of things together. And one thing was I had a meeting with his managers, all his vice presidents in the headquarters, talking about verbally how to talk to a customer. And first of all, you should look at them within nine feet and say, hello, good morning, welcome, and so on. The behavioral analysts say that a person relates to you and makes a decision when they come within about three meters, nine or ten feet. That's when you make a decision that instant.

So you want to make sure that that instant, a positive decision, goes into their subconscious. In fact, we have an interesting study. In the very beginning of Fritz Karlmann, we had comment cards, which is not very scientific, but I had about 400,000. When I was dealing with J.J. Power, I knew Dave Power at the time very well. He said he was a step out of only automotive, and we were the first company that actually did something with outside of automotive. I said, Dave, I have those 400,000 cards here. I'm being told it's not very scientific study, but, and he said, well, give them to me, we see what we can find.

He came back and said something very interesting here. Whenever the first contact was good, that means sales or reservation, doorman, front desk or bellman. When that was good, never ever did a complaint follow.

Never ever. Whenever there was one negative in the first contact, always other complaints followed. So with other words, it can put people into a subconscious positive. If the first contact immediately happens to be well, a nine feet is very important because that's when the decision is being made subconsciously.

Subconscious is stronger than conscience. So it's a very important moment. So we thought from there on, whatever you're doing within nine feet, you look at the customer and say, well, come. And then, and eliminate, in our case, we said, eliminate words like hi, because I want to tell the customer immediately, you're important to us. If I say hi, I'm saying we are equal. If I say welcome, sir, welcome, I'm saying you're important to us and I am very professional.

I'm giving two messages here, which creates trust. So, and then, of course, we taught our people to eliminate two more words. Don't ever say folks, guys, et cetera. And don't say OK. In our case, say I'm delighted to or it's my pleasure. So right away, this kid that I hired from inner city becomes a very elegant young man that we put into great uniform, because if I hire that kid, he now the next day is facing the chairman of the board of the Bank of England.

I'm going to make sure that interaction happens right. If I eliminate those three things, hi or whatever, dude, guys, folks, and OK, now all of a sudden there's a very elegant young man there. So I explained that to Chick-fil-A and said, no, you have to eliminate the OK. We use my pleasure.

And I guess and I think this is wrong for your market segment. Let's find a different word. And everybody agreed it was not the right word for Chick-fil-A. My pleasure was too fancy. And we kind of discussed it when suddenly in the back of the room, somebody raised a finger and said, I like my pleasure, which was Truitt, the owner, the founder, this great gentleman. I like my pleasure. I said, yeah, yeah, but, you know, but it is too sophisticated for Chick-fil-A. Mr. Carthy, that was Truitt Carthy, it is too sophisticated.

You should. He said, I like it. That ended the discussion, by the way.

Guess what they're saying? They're saying my pleasure, you know, and so implemented some other criteria of service, which then will tell anybody that I was successful to help them with. No, they didn't become an exceptional company because of me. But those are the little things that I helped them with, including the my pleasure thing, which they became famous for. I was wrong. And now I didn't tell him to use my pleasure. I was against it.

So anyway. And a terrific job on the editing and storytelling by Greg Hengler. And a special thanks to Horst Schulze, as always, for sharing his stories with us. And it's not just a story.

We have a bunch by Horst because, well, what a storyteller he is, and what wisdom he has. And by the way, what a thing to know that it all starts in that very first contact. And if you've ever been to Ulrich-Carlton, it's different than the other hotels. Impeccably dressed, alert, they greet you from far away. It's always welcome.

And they're different on every contact throughout the organization. And we can all be different. And we can all be better versions of ourselves. And what a story about my pleasure and where it came from. Just beautiful storytelling. Go to more of Horst's work on His book is called Excellence Wins, a no-nonsense guide to becoming the best in a world of compromise.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-07 04:44:14 / 2023-06-07 04:49:11 / 5

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