Better Before Bigger

May 8, 2013 — 3 Comments

5.8.13There’s an incredible quote I want to share from Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-a. But first let me give you the back story. As Andy Stanley tells it, in the 1990s there was a company called Boston Chicken, which ended up becoming Boston Market. This was Chick-fil-a’s first direct competitor, another major brand of a chicken-sandwiches-only restaurant.

Boston Market had huge expansion plans, with the goal of having $1 billion in sales by the year 2000. They were fast-expanding and aggressive. Naturally, the executives at Chick-fil-a were nervous about the new threat, a direct competitor in their market space. Conversations began around this threat, and Chick-fil-a’s initial response was centered on how to grow bigger, how to grow faster to compete with Boston Market.

The whole thing culminated in a board room at Chick-fil-a headquarters, with all the VPs and Marketing people trying to figure out how to get bigger, faster. At the head of the table was Truett Cathy, quiet and seemingly disengaged from the whole conversation. Then out of the blue, Truett Cathy began banging his fists on the table until he had everyone’s attention. What he said next is the point of this whole post.

Cathy said, “Gentlemen, I am sick and tired of hearing you talk about us getting bigger. What we need to be talking about is how to get better. If we get better, our customers will demand that we get bigger.” That statement changed the whole course of the conversation at Chick-fil-a headquarters. The result? In the year 2000 (when Boston Market wanted to reach $1 billion in sales), Boston Market filed for bankruptcy, and Chick-fil-a reached $1 billion in sales for the first time.

Why? Because Boston Market focused on getting bigger, while Chick-fil-a focused on getting better. Better before bigger.

Where in your life, in your business, are you tempted to focus on bigger before better? If you focus on making it better, it will naturally become bigger.

If you enjoyed this nugget of truth, then you experienced a taste of what the Chick-fil-a Leadercast will be like this Friday. Andy Stanley will be one of the headline speakers. If you can attend, you’ll be glad you did! Find a location here.

3 responses to Better Before Bigger


    Awesome story, and a great reminder once again that the tortoise always wins the race.

    I read an interesting article on Copyblogger about the concept of “kaizen”, a Japanese term for continuous incremental improvement. The country used this philosophy to rebuild its economy after World War II.

    Thanks for sharing Josh!


    Sadly, many churches in the USA want to be bigger rather than better as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s