LIFT Speaks 21 with Jarvis Boyd: Building a Defining Vision within a Multi-billion Dollar Brand

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Jarvis Boyd took the leap from corporate guy to owner/operator of a Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Grapevine, Texas.  He believes in the corporate vision, and he has created actionable steps to support it. Jarvis is intentional about personally living out the vision and creating a team that executes on the vision.  It takes focus, commitment, energy and time.  But, for Jarvis, it’s core to how he wants to live his life – to have positive impact on his community. 

I started my business because . . . I wanted to make an impact on my community and partner with an iconic brand.

The thing I enjoy most about my business is . . . meeting and connecting with new people.

The biggest surprise for me as a business owner is . . . how extremely important it is to plan out my time because of the many daily demands.

One question people should ask me is . . . why Chick-fil-A?

My older self would coach my younger self to . . . to take advantage of every moment to connect with and learn from as many people as I could.

One thing I wish I knew when I was younger is . . . that connecting with others is the best way to bring your dreams to reality. 

Introduction 

Catherine Miller: Welcome to LIFT Speaks. Today, I’ve invited LIFT member Jarvis Boyd. Jarvis is the owner and operator of the Chick-fil-A in Grapevine, Texas on William D. Tate. Welcome.

Jarvis Boyd: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Catherine Miller: I’m so glad that you’re here and I love having you as a LIFT member. You bring joy and a lot of cool to LIFT. It’s always great to see your team come in to meet too.

Jarvis Boyd: Yeah, they enjoy it.

Catherine Miller: I think there are probably some people who are thinking, “Now, why would the owner/operator of a franchise type company who probably has his/her own office on-sight, have a space at the LIFT office offsite?” Would you please explain?

Jarvis Boyd: I think the biggest thing about LIFT is it allows us to be in a confined space. In the restaurant, everything is dedicated to operations. So, our office in the store is not very big and it doesn’t allow us to kind of space that we use at LIFT.  For example, if I want to show a PowerPoint or something like that, the space here allows us to do all of those things and to have a think tank where we share ideas. We use a whiteboard all the time, which is fantastic.

Catherine Miller: I’m so happy that it works well for you and your team.

Jarvis Boyd: This space just allows us a lot of flexibility and brainstorming and also looking at PowerPoints and things that we need to review on a weekly and a monthly basis.

Catherine Miller: Yeah. We love having you here. Admittedly, it was curious to me when you first came in. I thought, “Well, you have a freestanding building, and I’m sure it has a small office.” I was curious about the benefit for you. Perso I’m so glad that you use the LIFT Office to grow your business.

New topic, Jarvis, how long have you owned the Chick-fil-A?

Jarvis Boyd:  I am going on almost two years. It will be two years October 1st.

Catherine Miller: So, still in the honeymoon phase.

Jarvis Boyd: I am still in the honeymoon phase.

Catherine Miller: Chick-fil-A, they’re known for being very picky about who they allow to buy into their franchise system. Isn’t that right?

Jarvis Boyd: Yeah. It’s a very competitive process. The last numbers I heard were over 30,000 applications and we opened less than 100 restaurants on a yearly basis. So less than –

Catherine Miller: So, 30,000 applications in one year.

Jarvis Boyd: Absolutely.

Catherine Miller: And, they accept less than 100?

Jarvis Boyd: Less than 100.

Catherine Miller: Less than 100.

Jarvis Boyd: Every year.

Catherine Miller: Once again, I feel like I’m sitting with a very special person.

Jarvis Boyd: Oh, I wouldn’t say that. I’m very fortunate that Chick-fil-A chose me and I’m in a very blessed position.

Catherine Miller: Yeah. Well, I am sitting with a very special person. I’m glad that you’re here.

Jarvis Boyd: I appreciate that.

Catherine Miller: One of the things I would love to chat with you about today is vision.  I know Chick-fil-A is known for their vision and for how – I mean for years, they’ve worked hard to create a culture and a community and a vision statement that has had big impact. What is the vision statement of Chick-fil-A corporate?

Jarvis Boyd: Yeah. It’s to glorify God and be a faithful steward of everything that has been entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on everybody that comes into contact with Chick-fil-A.

I love it because it’s a north start for our brand and it allows us to talk to people about why we do what we do. It’s not just about chicken and fries. It’s about having an impact on individuals It is about having an impact on your community and it’s also about having an impact on your employees.

So, for me, it means a lot. You mentioned special and being able to be chosen to move the legacy that Mr. Cathy started is a big responsibility, and it’s one that I don’t take lightly. I look at that statement every day to make me understand and give me the direction that I need every day to go out and do what I do.

Catherine Miller: That’s cool. I actually think it’s a great directional statement for really anybody in life.

Jarvis Boyd: Absolutely.

Catherine Miller: When you went to training at corporate office, what did they focus on, what did they work to instill in the group? The training is pretty intense, right?

Jarvis Boyd: It is.

Catherine Miller: What do they do to instill that vision in you and to train all the managers, owners of these businesses on how to execute the vision?

Jarvis Boyd: I think the biggest thing around training was it’s an immersion program where you go into a restaurant and you do operations. You begin to understand where Mr. Cathy was and his mindset. You talk to some of his family members. You go to his first restaurant and you understand what his mindset was when he created the vision for Chick-fil-A.

Then you start to understand this huge responsibility, and that it wasn’t just about the chicken and fries. It was truly about being an impact in a community and making sure that you have this positive impact and influence.  You are watching and thinking, “Hey, how can I make this person’s day better by serving them the best quality food and serving them with a smile on my face and giving them the customer service that you know they deserve?”

Catherine Miller: I love that.

Jarvis Boyd: Understanding those types of things I think is very, very key in continuing the legacy that Mr. Cathy started.

Catherine Miller: Right. So, clearly you believe in the vision.

Jarvis Boyd: Absolutely.

Catherine Miller: So then after that training – which lasted how long

Jarvis Boyd: Oh, it’s approximately about six to eight weeks.

Catherine Miller: OK.

Jarvis Boyd: Yeah.

Catherine Miller: That’s is pretty short training process, and then you’re in your own space. Now you are in charge of hiring the people and getting them to capture this vision

Jarvis Boyd: Right.

Catherine Miller: What do you do to take it from concept of a vision that you believe in to actually having the employees execute on that vision?

Jarvis Boyd: So, the first thing that I did in my restaurant was take Mr. Cathy’s vision and purpose for Chick-fil-A and boil it down to what I thought we could execute on in the restaurant. The vision statement in our restaurant is to impress every customer, every time, every day.

In our location, we are fortunate that we’re the closest Chick-fil-A to the airport. Sometimes get customers that have never had Chick-fil-A before.

Catherine Miller: Oh, wow!

Jarvis Boyd: Which is a great thing. It’s our opportunity to introduce them to the brand.  We also have another dynamic where we have customers that come in like our next-door neighbor at the post office. Mr. Hyatt comes in faithfully five to six times a week. So, when you have those two demographics and those two dynamics, there has to be an expectation that – whether it’s this person’s first time in the store or this person’s sixth time for that week in the store – their food has to be topnotch and the customer service has to be the same.

Catherine Miller: That’s a big responsibility.

Jarvis Boyd: The customer service has to be impressive for every person. So that’s why I settled in terms of impress every customer every time every day.

Catherine Miller: When you gather your team together, do you have exercises that you go through to teach them that? Do you help them grasp that? I can have in my mind to impress somebody. But that could play out in different ways for different people. How do you unify your team with the vision? How do you get all of your employees to capture the vision and to execute it in a way you want that executed?

Jarvis Boyd: That’s a good question. We’ve actually boiled our vision statement down to six cultural beliefs. I was fortunate. So, I will give kind of a disclaimer. I am an Atlanta Falcons fan and so I had the opportunity of hearing Arthur Blank speak, who’s the owner of the Falcons and founder of Home Depot. His six cultural beliefs were put people first, listen and respond, include everyone, innovate continuously, give back to others and lead by example.

I thought like, “Wow! Those are powerful cultural beliefs and it fits into the impress model.”

Catherine Miller: Yeah.

Jarvis Boyd: What I’ve been able and fortunate to do is adopt those cultural beliefs, those six cultural beliefs to have a way of us executing our vision and coming up with a common theme language. So, when we are celebrating somebody for performance or we’re coaching, we’re talking in that same language, and that language gives us a structure of making sure that we’re trying to impress.

The other great thing about those cultural beliefs is it also allows for individualism in how you put people first. It’s totally up to the individual.

Catherine Miller: That’s great.

Jarvis Boyd: But there’s this concept of putting people first.

I think it’s important that there is structure. But there is also this element of people being individualized and allowing them to be themselves.

Catherine Miller: Right. So, they can execute their personality in the process of following the vision.

Jarvis Boyd: Absolutely.

Catherine Miller: I would also think that you personally set an example. You probably set the tone for the whole space, yeah?

Jarvis Boyd: Yeah. I think from a vision standpoint, the most important thing about the vision, especially within – in the restaurant is that I be the example of the vision by putting people first and listening and responding, including everyone and innovating continuously. How am I getting better every day? That’s a signal to my team that this is – these are not just words on paper. This is something that we’re going to live out every day that we’re in the restaurant.

It’s extremely important for me every day to think about my vision. I actually walk around with my vision on a sheet of paper, and it’s in my wallet. I look at it constantly and I try to challenge myself to say at the beginning of the day that I am going to live my vision. Then at the end of the day, have I lived my vision?

Catherine Miller: Oh, wow. So, you review – at the end of your day, you review it and you contemplate whether you did well in that day, in executing that vision and how to tweak it and be better the next day.

Jarvis Boyd: Absolutely. I think that’s important and that’s part of the cultural beliefs of innovating continuously. How am I getting better? Because if I want my restaurant, if I want my people to continue to move forward, I also have to continue to move forward as well.

Catherine Miller: Right.

Jarvis Boyd: It’s very important to me that I be an example for my team.

Catherine Miller: Right. So in living out that vision, is there an area of it that brings you the greatest joy?

Jarvis Boyd: I think it’s the putting people first. I love to just kind of talk. One of the things that I try to do is just try to figure out where the restaurant fits into people’s lives. I think some people –

Catherine Miller: Meaning the employees’ lives or the customers?

Jarvis Boyd: Yeah, employees’ lives. Yeah, absolutely. I think – I have a segment that want to be Chick-fil-A employees for the rest of your life, which is fantastic. How do I position the restaurant for them? But I also have a certain segment of employees that want to be doctors, that want to be lawyers. What am I doing to position the restaurant in their experience that makes it beneficial and helpful for them in their journey to get to where they’re trying to go?

So that to me is extremely important in the vision of putting people first. How do I place the restaurant in people’s lives so they understand, and they’re engaged in what we’re doing in the store?

Catherine Miller: Right.

Jarvis Boyd: And they understand that there is some tangible benefit that they’re going to take from their experience in the restaurant that may be applicable to them down the road when they become a doctor or lawyer or teacher.

Catherine Miller: Right, right. I love the vision. I think it’s a great statement, and if executed perfectly it can be perfect.

Jarvis Boyd: Right.

Catherine Miller: But the reality in life is rarely do things go perfectly as planned.

Jarvis Boyd: Agreed.

Catherine Miller: Right?  Give me an example of when you’ve set forth this vision statement and you’re just like, “We’re just not hitting it today. It’s just falling apart.” How do you take that tough situation when the vision is not being followed and you’re trying to get it back on track?

Jarvis Boyd: I mean for us, I think the thing is always going back to our cultural beliefs and it’s trying to figure out why. So, this is the whole putting people first, listening and responding and including everyone. When something is not going right, I think you first have to try to figure out why and figuring out why is kind of a series of questions. Why did it happen that way? What were we – what were our priorities at the time? And also, just listening and responding.

We have people who have a number of ideas about how to make things better. Sometimes when things go wrong, it’s not because they – somebody is intently doing something wrong. It’s sometimes because they are thinking that they’re helping a situation get better. So, trying to figure those things out and going back and listening and then responding and saying, “All right. Is there a system that we can put in place that actually alleviates this and makes us even stronger to come out on the other end of it?”

The other thing, that third piece of including everyone – I just did an exercise with my team where I sat a coffee cup in the middle of a roundtable. There were six people around the table and I asked each person to tell me exactly what they saw on the coffee cup. One person saw the words “hot” and “caution”. But they didn’t see exactly the other side, the total opposite side that said “coffee”.

One person knew what was in the cup. The other person didn’t. The reason for that is because including everyone gives you the total 360-degree picture of a situation. It allows us to align to where we’re not fragmented in what our perspective is.

So that’s the importance of including everyone. We try to incorporate exercises like that, that reinforce our cultural belief, because our cultural beliefs are the underpinnings of our vision.

Catherine Miller: Right.

Jarvis Boyd: That’s what keeps the vision moving forward. So, a lot of times, what I will do is I will just have examples or exercises like that, that reinforce why we need to include everyone. So, when issues do come up, there’s an actual tactical way of us figuring out why it went wrong, but also a way for us to figure out a solution and move forward and it makes the culture even stronger because what we’ve done is we’ve utilized those cultural beliefs to enhance the – to execute on the vision.

Catherine Miller: Right. And your employees go back and they remember the example that you had and you can –

Jarvis Boyd: Exactly.

Catherine Miller: Remember the cup. It takes all of us to come up with a solution. So, it becomes another kind of stepping stone to uniting the whole team in that vision.

Jarvis Boyd: Absolutely.

Catherine Miller: OK. So, Jarvis, vision is great. But the reality is people are messy.

Jarvis Boyd: Yes.

Catherine Miller: And life is messy.

Jarvis Boyd: Yeah.

Catherine Miller: And interferences happen. So, tell me what you do – give me an example of a story that man, things are going sideways. This is messy, and you’ve got to work to get it back on track. What’s an example of that, when you’ve had trouble with that, and how you’ve brought it back in alignment with your vision?

Jarvis Boyd: Well, I think the hard thing for us is impress is a very customer-centric vision statement. Oftentimes, it’s not comparable with the capacity that we have at some of our restaurants, at many of the Chick-fil-As. So, what happens a lot of times, especially during lunch or during breakfast when it’s extremely busy, you have sometimes where our priorities are to get a customer as quick – in and out as quick as we possibly can, which is oftentimes the goal. We want to do that.

Catherine Miller: Right.

Jarvis Boyd: But we don’t want to miss the differentiating factor for us, which is that impress piece.

Catherine Miller: Right.

Jarvis Boyd: So, the hardest thing for us is especially when we get new employees that are not used to sometimes the volume and the stress that comes along with operating during a lunch period.

Catherine Miller: Right.

Jarvis Boyd: The first thing you see is them sacrifice the impress part for making sure that they’re trying to get the food out as quick as possible and teaching them the skills of you can be quick, but you also have to be customer-centric in also everything that you’re doing. So that becomes a hard part and that kind of goes back to what we’re talking about from a cultural piece is being an example.

When we see somebody not executing on those things, we go back and say, “Hey, are some tools that you can use to make sure that you’re also being quick, but you’re also concentrating on the customer as well.”

So there constantly has to be this reinforcement around the vision because our differentiating factor is our food is fantastic. It’s hot. It’s fresh. But also, this customer service piece that we have to have and those two – it’s both of those things.

They’re coupled together. It’s not one or the other.

Catherine Miller: Right.

Jarvis Boyd: It’s both of those things and from a vision standpoint becomes the hardest thing. But we – I think what we’ve kind of settled in is that the training has to be there in order to reinforce. There has to be a constant conversation around this is what our goal is and that’s to impress the customer every time every day.

Catherine Miller: Right. And how many employees do you have?

Jarvis Boyd: I currently have 57 employees.

Catherine Miller: Wow. That is a lot to manage, to keep moving in the same direction.

Jarvis Boyd: Yes.

Catherine Miller: Especially with the number of guests that you have coming through every day. That’s busy and it’s complex.

Jarvis Boyd: Absolutely.

Catherine Miller: It’s complex.

Jarvis Boyd: It’s definitely complex.

Catherine Miller: Because it involves so many people.

Jarvis Boyd: Absolutely, absolutely. I think kind of piggybacking off of what we talked about just a few minutes ago is the other challenge is being able to extend that culture and that vision to new employees as they come into the restaurant for the first time. So, one of the things I am very passionate about are stories. I tell all my employees why I came to Chick-fil-A so they can understand what it means to me to be a part of this iconic brand.

Catherine Miller: So, what is your story?

Jarvis Boyd: Yeah. Great question. Pharmaceutical sales was my previous background. I was a regional sales director for a small pharmaceutical company for the – oh, man – for about two years. But overall, my pharmaceutical sales career was 17, 18 years and the reason I got into pharmaceuticals was it was customer-centric. It was patient-centric and what I found was that over the years, that customer service level was starting to wean and had an experience at Chick-fil-A where I went through the drive-through. Somebody stole my credit card number and silly me, I forgot to take that credit card out of my wallet.

I went through the drive-through and handed the window person the wrong credit card and was – I had – sorry, I have three kids and I have them in the back. So, kind of just going through all that.

Catherine Miller: Disarray.

Jarvis Boyd: Disarray, chaos. And I turned back around and he says, “Sir, I just want to let you know something was wrong with your card. But your meal is on me.”

First thing I thought was, “Oh, no, no, no. I’m sorry. I have the right card.” He’s like, “No, no, this is on me. Have a blessed day.” That just kind of stuck with me as I’m leaving the drive-through. So, I went home and dropped the kids off and came back to the restaurant and asked to speak to the owner who was so gracious to come out and talk to me and just kind of talked to me about why. Because I wanted to know why, right?

Catherine Miller: Right.

Jarvis Boyd: And he talked to me about having an impact on the community and never knowing how those small little things can be a blessing to somebody and that just stuck with me and I wanted to know more. I prayed about it and what I settled on was that the reason I got into pharmaceutical was this whole customer service thing. It’s just the vehicle was medicine.

Catherine Miller: Right.

Jarvis Boyd: And Chick-fil-A offered an opportunity to be at a granular level of customer service. But the vehicle was just chicken and fries.

Catherine Miller: Yeah.

Jarvis Boyd: So, once I drank that first sip of Kool-Aid, I was drawn.

Catherine Miller: Then that was it.

Jarvis Boyd: Yeah.

Catherine Miller: Will you please share a couple of your blessing stories where you’ve had the opportunity to take what was given to you some years ago and you’ve been able to pass on to someone else.

Jarvis Boyd: I remember somebody when I first took over the restaurant, a young lady who had all of her clothes in the car and it’s ironic. It was almost the exact same situation that I had where her credit card didn’t work and hey, this is on us and just have a blessed day. You could see that there was something going on. But the smile on her face afterwards was – it was kind of validation, you know, and it was validation for me that I was doing what I am supposed to be doing.

Catherine Miller: Yeah.

Jarvis Boyd: And continuing the legacy of what Mr. Cathy started and that literally happened probably within the first couple of months of me owning the restaurant.

Catherine Miller: Yeah.

Jarvis Boyd: So, having those points of validation where you go, “Yes, I am going to be a positive impact in this community and make sure that I uphold this legacy.” It was really important. That was a really rewarding feeling and so that’s the one story that I remember just – because it happened right when I took over.

Catherine Miller: It was just like confirming that you had made the right decision.

Jarvis Boyd: Absolutely.

Catherine Miller: It’s great to have that validation. I’m hoping you will give us a sneak peek for the future.  I was on either Instagram or Facebook and recently saw that every 25th car or person I guess who walked in –

Jarvis Boyd: In the drive-through.

Catherine Miller: Oh, only in the drive-through, which tells us you need to stay in your car.

Jarvis Boyd: Yeah.

Catherine Miller: Got a free meal.

Jarvis Boyd: Yes.

Catherine Miller: Right?

Jarvis Boyd: Yes.

Catherine Miller: And it looked like it was crazy. Like people were lining up to come through. Tell us about that and how you came up with that idea and how that impacted the store and …

Jarvis Boyd: I don’t know if people know but the story behind the Chick-fil-A at William D. Tate is that that store is the first freestanding Chick-fil-A west of the Mississippi.

Catherine Miller: I did not know that.

Jarvis Boyd: Yes. It was built in June of 1993. So back in June, we actually celebrated the 25th anniversary of the actual building and being in the community of Grapevine for 25 years.

Catherine Miller: Wow.

Jarvis Boyd: What we’ve decided is that every 25th day of the month, we will do some type of giveaway to celebrate 25 years. So, this upcoming month, every car in the drive-through during breakfast from 6:00 to 10:30, we will give away a free meal no matter what it is.

Catherine Miller: That’s happening this coming 25th?

Jarvis Boyd: Yeah, every 25th. So, from here to the end of the year, every 25th of the month.

Catherine Miller: Well, I’m lining up.

Jarvis Boyd: Hey, come on.

Catherine Miller: I’m going to go get my free Chick-fil-A.

Jarvis Boyd: I love it.

Catherine Miller: That’s a really fun idea. Was that your idea?

Jarvis Boyd: Yeah.

Catherine Miller: Cool.

Jarvis Boyd: We came up with it and just kind of started celebrating every 25th day of the month. So, it has been fun.

Catherine Miller: That’s really fun. That’s a great idea. Well, if someone wants to go visit you on the 25th or any other day, then where do they come?

Jarvis Boyd: They can come to 1245 William D. Tate Avenue in Grapevine, Texas. Come and see us.

Catherine Miller: Yeah. Honestly, I’ve been there several times before. I even knew it was owned by you and it’s one of my personal favorite Chick-fil-As.

Jarvis Boyd: Good.

Catherine Miller: It’s fast and the food is really, really good. So …

Jarvis Boyd: Impress.

Catherine Miller: Yeah. I’ve been impressed. I’ve been impressed. Thank you so much for joining us today, Jarvis. I think you have some real insight and wisdom for those of us who are trying to execute on vision and make it come to life in our businesses and I love the work that you’re doing.

Jarvis Boyd: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Catherine Miller: Thank you.

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