Rotary Club hears from Kolby Shepherd about Chick-fil-A

Published 5:48 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2024

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Members of the Bainbridge Rotary Club met for their weekly meeting at the Kirbo Center on Tuesday. The guest speaker of the day was Kolby Shepherd, owner of Bainbridge Chick-fil-A.

Shepherd spoke to Rotary once previously in 2019, when he was still new to the business. Shepherd hoped to give the club an update on what the business has accomplished over the past few years. He began with some basic employment figures: 98% of the Chick-fil-A staff are from the area. When the restaurant first opened, Shepherd said he had received 1,400 applications.

“One of the things I got told when we opened here,” he said, “was ‘Good luck, you’re never gonna find good employees.’ I would hear things like ‘Bainbridge ruins everything,’… Well it turns out, our whole story has been the exact opposite of that.”

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Shepherd gave a brief overview of his history with the company, having been with the company for 10 years. “I did start at a restaurant,” he said. “A question I get a lot of times is “If you want to be a franchise owner for Chick-fil-A, do you have to work at a Chick-fil-A? That’s not true.” He explained that Chick-fil-A hires people from various walks of life. “They want the franchise pool to be mixed with all kinds of experience.”

The mission of Chick-fil-A Bainbridge, according to Shepherd, is to “inspire community one meal at a time.”

He stated that the restaurant’s order accuracy percentage is 96%. “Chick-fil-A Bainbridge performs well, however, 96% still means you’re missing 4% of the people,” he said. “If you’re one of those 4%, you’re gonna be upset, so we’ve still got to be able to work with you to get that meal. All of that to say is, we teach our team, ‘One meal at a time.’… You’ve gotta slow down, and be fast, kinda counterintuitive.”

Shepherd emphasized the importance of inspiration as one of the restaurant’s core values. He also gave the club a brief run-down of the Chick-fil-A’s management team, and also detailed the restaurant’s proactive stance on cleanliness and preventing pest problems. “It’s scary how quickly that stuff can get out of hand,” he said, citing having seen it at other restaurants.

Shepherd would go on to discuss their efforts to fund their younger worker’s college education, which improved employee retention.

Following the presentation, Shepherd took questions from the audience.