I rolled up to the Chick-fil-A drive-thru with a challenge in mind. Could I say ‘My Pleasure’ more than the employee trained to say the phrase? It’s called the ‘My Pleasure Challenge’ and the goal is to be the last one to say it. Playful Chick-fil-A employees will quickly step up to the challenge and make this a fun, memorable experience. At least that’s what happened to me as I ordered my number one combo with waffle fries and a Coke Zero.
“My Pleasure” and the Chick-fil-A Brand
When you think of Chick-fil-A several things probably come to mind: waffle fries, cows that can’t spell, restaurants closed on Sundays. And those two little words: “My Pleasure.” In fact, it’s so iconic that we decided to name the podcast after that simple phrase. We even sell a My Pleasure t-shirt in our fan shop. But have you ever wondered how it came to be that Chick-fil-A employees don’t say “You’re welcome” or “No problem”?
Why Did Chick-fil-A Employees Start Saying ‘My Pleasure?”
The story goes that Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy was visiting a Ritz-Carlton hotel when an employee caught his attention. Every time Truett Cathy thanked the employee he’d respond, “my pleasure.” This exchanged left an impression on Truett who felt that it was a nice way to tell someone that you were pleased to serve them.
So at the 2001 annual Chick-fil-A Operators seminar, Truett challenged around 900 Operators to swap out “You’re welcome” or “No problem,” with “my pleasure. “You can’t say ‘my pleasure’ without looking them in the eye,” he told the crowd. And Truett felt that eye contact helped to create a personal connection with customers.
Operators Slow to Adopt the “My Pleasure” Phrase
Truett Cathy is behind all of Chick-fil-A’s most recognizable icons. The restaurants are closed on Sundays because of a tradition Truett began with his very first business. Those two pickles on the Original Chicken Sandwich? Yep, those exist because of Truett and the five years he spent refining the recipe. So when he got the idea for adopting the “my pleasure” phrase, you’d think all Operators and employees would be quick to follow. That wasn’t the case according to Steve Robinson, former Chief Marketing Officer of Chick-fil-A. In his book ‘Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A: How Faith, Cows and Chicken Built an Iconic Brand’ he writes that Truett renewed his request for “my pleasure” again at the 2002 Operator seminar.
It wasn’t until 2003, when Truett’s son Dan realized how serious Truett was that he picked up the charge. Dan began using the phrase in his own conversations. He also encouraged others to do the same. “It dawned on me that this could be a service signature for us, almost like two pickles on a sandwich. If it could be that consistent across the chain, then it would make a tremendous impact on customers.” In their leadership message that year, Dan and Truett co-wrote a leadership message about using the expression, “my pleasure”.
What Does “My Pleasure” Mean?
Of course, we know that “my pleasure” is another way of responding to “thank you.” But in the leadership message that Dan Cathy and Truett Cathy co-wrote they explained that it’s an “expression from the heart.” Team members, operators or staff members are able to literally show that they want to go the extra mile and that they care about the other person. “They have enough value in the other person to exceed expectation,” they wrote. Those two little words represent warm hospitality and a desire to serve.