Brand Loyalty Starts Internally at Church’s Chicken

Founded in San Antonio, Texas, in 1952 by George W. Church, Church’s Chicken is one of the largest quick service restaurant chicken chains in the world.

Church’s Chicken CEO Joe Christina talked to Loyalty360 about the company’s recent progress and what role customer loyalty plays in the overall business model.

“Church’s has been steadily moving toward a more streamlined strategic business model over the past five years,” Christina explained. “Key factors which have paved the way for our progress includes our focused approach to  develop winning teams through a deepened relationship with our franchisees and building our internal talent;  igniting growth by building our brand in areas where research shows people are eager to eat our delicious chicken and honey butter biscuits, more participation in promotions and more unified marketing messages to clearly and consistently build upon our brand position around the world; driving guest satisfaction by focusing on speed of service, improved restaurant image and enhancing the total  guest experience; and delivering financial results through value engineering menu items and an increased sense of accountability to improve margin in all our restaurants. We are applying these factors and making it a reality for both our corporate-owned restaurants as well as for our franchisees.”

Christina noted that the company is building a stronger network systemwide by doing a better job of sharing information, developing best practices, and leveraging more robust communication vehicles among franchisees, field teams, and the Restaurant Support Center team members.

“It’s our overall approach to pursuing new opportunities, technologies, increased efficiencies, and operational improvements that make turning a profit an easier and a more straightforward proposition,” Christina explained.

When Christina was appointed CEO 11 months ago, “some strategic moves were needed” at the executive and senior leadership levels, he noted.

“We injected a renewed focus on building stronger relationships with our franchisees and engagement across the entire system and communicated a crystal-clear mission, vision and purpose, along with our newly discovered core values as a global brand and the culture that helps us deliver success,” he explained. “We’ve got a very strong platform to work from as we continue to build upon our management roadmap of initiatives, complete with a set of aggressive priorities to move the business forward, all in support of our Three-Year Strategic Plan. With our entire team pulling together, internally and externally, I’m very confident in our ability to drive profitable sales while also delivering exceptional quality and deliver on our promise to make great chicken experiences guests love.”

What role does customer loyalty play in the company’s overall business model?

“When a brand has been around for 65 years, like Church’s has–customer loyalty is part of the brand fabric,” Christina said. “You don’t make it to the 65-year mark without guests who have decided Church’s is their favorite fried chicken, their favorite place to share a meal with family and friends, and their favorite place to enjoy genuine hospitality during every visit. Building customer loyalty has many different elements—from great taste and service, to image and appearance, to value for the money. We’re a quick-service restaurant so we deliver on serving hot and fresh chicken in a fast and friendly environment and our guests have come to expect that. But to maintain that trust, we must always get their order right. Order accuracy is a critical element in our business and the overall guest experience toward building loyalty.” 

At Church’s Chicken, every team “owns” a piece of customer loyalty.

“At Church’s, we’re not just another fast food fried chicken place,” Christina said. “At Church’s, we have a responsibility to our communities and our families. We don’t just serve chicken, we serve meals, we respect family, we build careers, and strive to make Church’s a great place to work and grow. The more our team members understand why we exist as a brand, the better they represent us to their friends and family—and to the person they just met in the grocery line, and brag about our great chicken, biscuits, and sides … but also about what our brand means to them. Our team members are also our customers and loyalty starts from the inside and has far-reaching benefits on the outside that will withstand the test of time to build and maintain customer loyalty.” 

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