Growing a "Small" Company

Have you ever noticed how often the counter-intuitive strategy, or the contrarian view yields the best return? If you’ve not thought about this, maybe today’s post will help. One example is our attempt to grow a small company. Clearly, most leaders are trying to grow a large company – the bigger the better. But what would happen if you could grow a small one?

That’s the journey we’re on at Chick-fil-A, Inc. We are approaching $5 billion dollars in annual sales. That’s a lot of chicken. But what if we could grow a small company, what would it look like?
Well, I had the privilege to join our staff when it WAS a small company. I was the sixteenth corporate employee. Here are some of the positive attributes I observed back then…
Easy to know one another.
Easy to serve one another.
Easy to spend time together.
Easy to respond quickly.
Easy for everyone to contribute.
Easy to collaborate.
Easy to communicate.
Easy to celebrate together.
These sound like outstanding attributes of any company. The question we’ve been asking: How do you GROW a small company?
We know living organisms grow. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. So we do want to grow, we just don’t want to lose the benefits of being small. What do you do? Here is some of what we’re doing…

  • The president of our company still conducts orientation for new employees and new franchisees. He also gives his personal cell phone number to all of them.
  • Several of our senior leaders have hosted our new people in their homes for dinner. I’ve been able to do this with our franchisees for more than a decade.
  • We get the entire organization together at least once every 24 months. This is a combination celebration, strategic event and family reunion.
  • We still have free lunch at our home office. This is a practice our founder, Truett Cathy, started over 40 years ago. When lunch is free and on-site, most pull up a chair.
  • Each department hosts outings and holiday events, which often include spouses and children.
  • We’ve begun hosting regional events with our franchisees – we discovered putting 4000+ people in one room makes it hard to create a “small company” vibe.
  • Everyone is notified when any one of the 1000 plus staff has a birthday.
  • We still have a staff-wide meeting several times a year to recognize years of service.
  • We celebrate 20-year anniversaries with speakers, special guests, and always, food!

The list goes on – there are numerous other things we do on purpose to make the company feel smaller. And, we’re still looking for additional opportunities to do so. We believe the extra thought and energy are worth the effort. The attributes of a small company are powerful. We’ll not give them up without a fight.[GLS_Shield]
What are you doing to GROW a SMALL company?


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