And mostly, Lindsey was sure to get his purpose across. It wasn’t a program intended to generate buzz. This Chick-fil-A, which Lindsey took on mid-June of last year, is on pace to produce $17 million in sales this year. That's nearly $6 million more than the average Cheesecake Factory and puts his restaurant at the very top of Chick-fil-A’s AUV range: Of the chain’s 1,836 U.S. freestanding restaurants outside of malls in 2021 (those open and operated for at least a full calendar year, from a total of 2,023), average annual sales volumes clocked in at $8.142 million, with 849 of those, or 46 percent, producing figures at or above. The top operator reached $17.16 million, per Chick-fil-A’s FDD.
“I’m truly, from the bottom of my heart, I’m doing this because I think it’s the right thing to do for you and for your families and for your school and for whatever that might be,” Lindsey says he told workers. “That is the reason behind doing this. Because, honestly, it would probably be a whole lot easier to just do things the way we’ve always done them.”
Lindsey and management talked through scenarios over multiple meetings, dispelling one myth after another until a three-day workweek appeared feasible.
“We were having the tough conversations on the front end so that way everybody was super crystal clear as to the reasons behind this program and why we think it’s going to be the future for our business,” he says. “And what we found was people seemed to appreciate that.”
As it turns out, the program has produced ancillary benefits. The pods actively compete with each other on things like inspections and service times, sending pictures back and forth. Since taking the approach, Lindsey says, they’ve been “literally perfect” in every food safety inspection. “We’ve been an elite restaurant,” he says.
A pod finished their shift on a Wednesday and got together the following day to head to Busch Gardens. As a manager told Lindsey, out-of-work excursions are a lot easier to arrange when everybody knows when they’ll be off.
Returning to recruiting, there’s no denying a three-day shift grabs attention. Lindsey’s unit deploys a company to screen applications and set up interviews. They reached out recently and asked what Lindsey was doing to jump applications. “I think people want to work in this industry,” he says. “People enjoy the work. But they want some things to change, and I think that’s what this has shown—is that there are things that if we change it for the better, we’re going to make a lasting impact.”