I was on the train that ran from the Rental Car Center near the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to the main terminal. It was about a two-mile trip on the rail over the highways to the airport. One hundred feet from the terminal our train stopped. A voice came on apologizing for the delay. This was at 1:05pm last Sunday. Most of you have probably heard about the power outage that shutdown ATL last Sunday.
The rest of my story was quite boring compared to some of the people affected that day. We waited an hour on the train until the fire department came to safely walk us up the tracks to the airport. After a couple hours in the terminal, realizing that no flights were going anywhere that day, we got a taxi, got back to the Rental Car Center, got a car, and drove through the night back to Michigan.
Other people were not so lucky.
Some people were stranded on their airplanes because there was no power to move the jetways to the planes so they could get off. Some people had luggage stuck somewhere in the bowels of the airport with no power to run the baggage claim conveyors. Some people had no means to get a car, were too late to get a car, or were too far away to make driving an option.
Most of those people ended up in temporary shelter at the Georgia International Convention Center next to the airport.
Chick-fil-A showed up to feed thousands of people for free that Sunday evening at GICC.
Why is that a big deal? Chick-fil-A isn’t even open on Sundays. That has always been a cornerstone of their Core Values. It says on their website …
“Our founder, Truett Cathy, made the decision to close on Sundays in 1946 when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia. Having worked seven days a week in restaurants open 24 hours, Truett saw the importance of closing on Sundays so that he and his employees could set aside one day to rest and worship if they choose – a practice we uphold today. Sundays are meant for getting out and spending time with family and friends.”
A company that believes in taking care of family and friends took care of strangers on a day they were closed. A company founded on true Christian values showed those values of compassion and caring.
Chick-fil-A didn’t have to feed those people. There were other restaurants equally capable. The mayor of Atlanta made the call for assistance and they answered. They mobilized their employees and fed thousands of people for free.
They showed their true Core Values and everyone across the country and around the world saw it in action.
You don’t think people are going to remember this? You don’t think people are going to look at that chain a little differently? Those who looked at the chain being closed on Sundays and thought them the business fools for giving up the money, or those who thought them to be a little too pious for closing Sundays for “rest and worship” are probably looking at them differently. They walked the talk. People who believe the way Chick-fil-A believes will renew their support of the chain.
For me, the lesson here is simple. Make sure all of your actions are consistent with your Core Values and you will create loyalty and business through those actions far better than any advertising could ever reach.
I expect a spike at Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country that will more than make up for their expenses from last Sunday. (I also believe they did what they did because of who they are, not because of how it would affect their bottom line. That’s consistent with everything else about this chain.)
Chick-fil-A for the win once again.
PS Your actions speak louder than your words. Control your actions and you control the way people perceive your business. Make sure everything you do is consistent with your Core Values and you’ll find people who share those values drawn to you. Not everyone will like you. Not everyone will agree with you. But those who believe what you believe will become more loyal and faithful.