If I started a Baptist seminary and had carte blanche in designing and operating it, I think I would make it an admissions requirement that all students show evidence of having worked at a Chic-fil-A.
Sounds like a goofball concept? It has nothing to do with chicken, the old Baptist bird but my ruminations after a recent experience in one of the restaurants.
I was in a CFA restaurant on a recent Saturday morning for breakfast. While gnawing on one of their breakfast burritos I observed that there was a group being given some sort of tour or group interview, a dozen or so young people, perhaps high school and college. Maybe a high school economics class being shown around the local capitalist enterprise.
My dining group happened to include an employee of the restaurant.
“That’s a prospective employee orientation,” I was told. “The guy leading it is one of our staff.”
Nice looking bunch of kids. Some had ties (yours truly hasn’t worn a tie since retirement save for a few funerals). Females were pretty dressy.
I was intrigued and asked more about their hiring process.
Seems that prospective employees are invited to one of the pre-interview group orientations. The staffer goes over the job requirements, gives them a tour of the restaurant, sits and talks, takes any questions, and then says, “Thanks for coming. We will be in touch.”
I’m really intrigued. This is a fast food restaurant paying about minimum hourly wage rates, not some silk stocking law practice looking for interns. Isn’t one of the big issues with fast food the almost intractable problem of high employee turnover and a limited pool of applicants? Who wants to flip burgers or fry chicken for $8/hr. I have vast experience as a customer of hamburger, chicken, or taco joints and have come to expect the detached, surly, or perfunctory employee.
Not so CFA. Manifestly not so, since I just witnessed the restaurant sending a dozen bright and nicely dressed job candidates home with no job offer.
“OK, what’s the deal here,” I asked my booth partner and CFA staffer. “What is the interviewer/tour guide looking for in these kids that isn’t already obvious?”
I was told that the pre-interview was to assess how well the candidate would fit with CFA’s culture of a very high level of service – pleasant, smiling, eager, helpful service.
“Among other things, he is looking at each of those kids to see if they make eye contact with him, if they sit up straight, smile, and generally convey themselves in a positive manner.”
“You’ve done this with other groups, ” I said. “Do you ever find people who lose the job before they even get invited back for a one-on-one interview?”
“Sure,” she said, “Happens all the time. A person who doesn’t smile, doesn’t make eye contact, doesn’t seem like they want to work here is probably not our kind of employee. If we get a follow-up call from the person asking why they weren’t called back, we sometimes share the things that we see need improvement. Sometimes that helps with the individual and they get a second chance.”
My guess is that not a lot of SBCV readers have much interest in CFA, aside from wolfing down chicken sandwiches; but slog on below. This restaurant happened to be not too far from one of our seminaries.
“I suppose you’ve got some seminary students who work here?”
“Yes we do.”
“Do you ever have seminarians who fail this pre-interview process?”
“Indeed some do fail.”
“Same as the other applicants who don’t get called back. The don’t smile or they don’t make eye contact. They may convey an attitude that a paycheck is needed but they had really rather not fry up chicken breasts. Some are wonderful workers – personable, helpful, diligent servants of our customers. Some act like the job is below them. That doesn’t relate well to our guests or to other workers here. They may fit in better elsewhere.”
Let me see if I can summarize. You have a person who is called of God to serve Him.that person will likely serve the Lord through a local church as a pastor or staff minister and that work that is almost totally relational and invariably involves people. He will have to build relationships with strangers, minister to them in the name of Jesus, show a selfless attitude same as Jesus did. If the neophyte minister can’t demonstrate these things while ringing up $8 chicken meals in a restaurant, maybe they need to reassess their calling and how to go about it. Serve the Lord. Be a servant.
Yeah. Requiring seminarians to get a job at a CFA would at least demonstrate that they have some understanding of serving others. If Truett Cathy recognized the value of treating customers right, why not let him conduct the same training for those who will be our future pastors, ministers, missionaries, and Christian workers? The Cooperative Program need not drop one thin dime drop on this, it’s done for free; in fact, the company would pay our seminarians while they learn and demonstrate how to be a genuine servant.
Brilliant idea, Plodder!
Come to think of it, this might not be a bad thing for a pastor search committee to require of any serious candidate for their pulpit – a person who has worked at Chic-fil-A.
[No, CFA didn’t fund this article. But if they wanted to send me some coupons for frosted lemonades, I’m in a receptive mood.]