Here’s one mistake I’ll never make again …

I will make sure I measure the right thing!

If you measure the wrong thing you will get the wrong results. But if you measure the right thing, you will get the results you want, and recognize behavior you want repeated.

I recall the day I made this error. It all began when I noticed …

The serving lines are too long!

“The serving lines are too long!” I said to Greg, the field staff representative who was traveling with me. This was my initial impression of the Chick-fil-A restaurant in the large shopping mall food court where we were making a surprise lunchtime visit.

The franchisee (we always call them Operators) had six point-of-sale registers but he only had three of them staffed. With just three of his six registers staffed, he was only half prepared to serve his customers.

Greg and I jumped in and opened two more registers to help him through the lunch rush.

After lunch we discussed the problem: a long line at the counter sends a mistaken message to potential customers: to grab lunch at Chick-fil-A takes too much precious time in line.

Having three of six serving registers staffed at the busiest time of day makes it look like the restaurant is only half open. Customers expect a restaurant to be prepared to serve them at lunchtime.

As one old-time restaurateur told me when I was just a boy, “Customers are not concerned about what is convenient for us, they all want to eat at the same time and we better be ready.”

Never, ever, will I forget the franchisee’s response to my reprimand:

“I’m just following your instructions. You told me to reduce my labor cost. I did and you wrote me a complimentary note on my profit and loss (P&L) statement last month.”

I was stunned!

He was right; it was my fault!

I had him measuring the wrong thing!

Far too many times during my lifetime I have been reminded that I am a slow learner. That was not the first time I had focused attention on measuring the wrong thing and got the wrong results.

It was a hard-learned lesson, but I finally changed my focus from cost control to business building.

I told the Operator that he should disregard what I said about cost control and concentrate on sales. “Staff those registers, keep the lines short and moving and your sales increases will more than cover the additional labor expense.”

He accepted and followed that advice.

The result?

Measure the Right Thing and You Get the Right Results.

His sales increased and his labor cost percentage went down. As a result, his income increased.

After several incidents like this I stopped making comments, negative or positive, about any costs or profits recorded on Operator P&L statements.

I wrote notes of encouragement on the only two results that really matter:

Sales and Sales Increases!

Jimmy Collins

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