Where we start out isn’t always where we want to end up. Take a look at a few of our operators and see how they made Chick-fil-A® their own.
Keith Singletary started working part-time at a Chick-fil-A Restaurant while he went to college for his accounting degree. He didn’t know that his part-time job would eventually become his full-time career.
Keith’s career path led him to jobs as an accountant for the federal government, an auditor for a non-profit organization and budgeting chief for an international food service company and an insurance conglomerate. Whenever and wherever he traveled for those companies, he would always look up the local Chick-fil-A and go there for a meal.
Eventually the traveling caught up with Keith and it was time for some reflection and self-assessment. He came to realize he didn’t have a passion for accounting, but he did have a passion for people. And for Chick-fil-A.
“Passion for what you do is essential. I realized almost 20 years into my career that I was destined to be in business for myself, and Chick-fil-A has been the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Former Shipping Manager
Frieda Marroquin worked her way through college as a courier for an overnight shipping company. She eventually joined the company’s management training program and launched a highly successful and rewarding management career.
But eventually things began to change at her workplace. There was more focus on making the numbers and less focus on making a difference. Even though she liked her employer and appreciated her career there, Frieda was becoming restless.
What drew this native New Yorker and mother of four to Chick-fil-A? Was it her first Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich tasted at the age of 30? She says it was the promise of something more satisfying.
“Everybody loves Chick-fil-A. They don’t merely like it, they love it. And it’s a great feeling to be associated with such a positive experience. I thrive on meeting customers, guiding young people I work with, and helping them grow. Plus, I really appreciate the flexibility I have to be with my family and build my business.”
Former Shoe Salesman
At the age of 16, Shawn started selling shoes in the department store chain his dad helped operate. He learned customer service and anticipating people’s needs. So a few years later, he was a perfect fit for the role of a Chick-fil-A Operator.
Shawn decided to start looking for business ownership opportunities after seeing his dad get let go from the department store chain after 23 years of service. And while he searched for those ownership opportunities, Shawn took a job at a mall retail store and a second part-time job at the Chick-fil-A just two stores down. The Operator there liked what he saw in Shawn and invited him to investigate operating a Franchised Chick-fil-A Restaurant of his very own.
The 10 years Shawn spent in retail gave him the tools he needed to be a successful Chick-fil-A Operator. He learned to evaluate needs, anticipate needs and fulfill those needs. He also learned to follow up with guests and create relationships that kept people coming back to him year after year.
As a Chick-fil-A Operator, Shawn likes to embody the ownership mentality. He lives it. And he wants his employees to live it, too. He believes leadership means taking people where they want to go, not forcing them to bend to your will. He thinks giving team members the opportunities to take pride in what they do is key to his success.
“It’s not only about having the ownership mentality yourself, but bringing it out in others is vitally important. If I’m the only one, then I’m in trouble because I can’t be there all the time. My role is to inspire the leadership abilities in my team so we can all get where we want to be.”
Former Active Duty Air Force
When Roderick Long entered the Air Force after high school he wanted to see the world, experience new things and be part of something bigger. The skills he learned there would eventually lead to him commanding his own Chick-fil-A Restaurant.
When Roderick returned from active duty, he went to work for a petroleum company that also owned convenience stores, truck stops and grocery stores. He rose to the ranks of Regional Director of Operations with 43 stores in his territory.
He loved what he did. He liked the fact that it was a family-owned company and that he felt like he was part of that family. But he wanted to go somewhere he could take the lead. If he failed it would be because he made the wrong decisions, if he succeeded it would be because he made the right decisions. Roderick was confident he could make more of the right ones.
He also wanted the opportunity to be the person he wanted to be and the businessman he wanted to be. Without having to separate the two.
“I like that at the end of the day success is something that you control. If I want something to be better, it’s up to me to make it better. And to have that ability is refreshing and very inspiring.”
MBA and Businessman
People come to Chick-fil-A from a variety of paths, and Quart Graves is no exception. Quart earned his undergraduate degree and his MBA from the University of Texas. By the age of 33, he was running a multi-million dollar polypropylene business for a major pharmaceutical company. Next, he joined an IT consulting company and within six months had become its president.
And then it happened. Quart heard about Chick-fil-A through a friend. Although he was happy in his corporate job—and was very good at it—Quart was interested in a new challenge to tap his leadership and management skills. The idea of an entrepreneurial opportunity was appealing to him. Two years later, he applied to be a Franchised Operator.
“Making the transition from a corporate guy to running a Chick-fil-A Restaurant sounds like it would be difficult, but it felt very natural. I love hands-on work and investing in people. I really believe in the leadership of the company, and our products are terrific. I’m in my element.”
Former Retail Assistant
Marla has done a lot in her work life. Mostly because no one job ever interested her enough for more than a few years. She would get hired, quickly move up to management and get bored.
The self-proclaimed college dropout never lacked for confidence or motivation, she just didn’t think her places of employment held up their end of the bargain.
It was a good time for her to be introduced to Chick-fil-A. Working retail, she’d frequently spend her lunch hour at the Chick-fil-A in the mall. She befriended the Operator there and was impressed with the company’s philosophy. When that Operator moved on, he made sure she got the opportunity to become the Franchised Operator of her Chick-fil-A Restaurant.
Marla loves the control she gets being an Operator. She likes making the necessary decisions with her team and being able to pay it all forward.
College degree. No college degree. Great background. Rough background. Marla doesn’t care. She wants people who are invested and who feel comfortable making decisions that move the business forward.
“I get to live out my passion daily. I’m an influencer. An investor. I’m investing in the future and in the team that I have. We’re going to change things. And it’s going to be awesome. And if it’s not, we’ll look at it and change it again.”
Which all means it looks like Marla has found the job she’ll stick with awhile.