Why a Closed-on-Sunday Policy is Good Business

by Brad Harmon on July 13, 2010 in Entrepreneurs

Why a Closed-On-Sunday Policy is Good Business | marketplace christianity

I can’t tell you how many times when we are deciding what to eat after church on Sunday that a chicken sandwich from Chick-Fil-A pops into my head.  More often than not, I actually verbalize this craving only to hear my wife tell me, “You know they’re closed on Sundays.”  Drats!

Chick-Fil-A takes great measures to make their Closed-On-Sunday policy as much a part of their branding efforts as the chicken sandwich itself.  It’s a policy that their founder Truett Cathy adopted when he opened his first restaurant, and they have continued it for nearly 65 years despite Sunday being one of the best days for business in food service.

As a Christian, I certainly applaud the policy; however, I wonder sometimes if, as an entrepreneur, it’s good business.

God Honors Those Who Honor Him

Starting with the most obvious benefit, as Christian entrepreneurs our primary focus is on honoring God and our secondary focus is on making money.  This philosophy is completely foreign to most entrepreneurs who only focus on the bottom line; however, our bottom line is ultimately in heaven.

When Chick-Fil-A sat down to write their Corporate Purpose, this is what they drafted.

To glorify God by being a faithful steward to all that is entrusted to us.
To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-Fil-A.

When you drive by a closed Chick-Fil-A store on Sunday, you can’t help but think that this is a company which truly believes their Corporate Purpose.

By the way, Chick-Fil-A has reported record sales every single year without exception despite being closed on Sunday.

It Shows How You Feel Towards Your Employees

In an industry where employees often do not know when they will be working until the shift schedule is posted each week, it’s nice to know that you have a guaranteed day off.

Cathy believes that by giving his employees Sunday off as a day

  • to spend with their family,
  • to worship and renew their spirit,
  • to fellowship with their friends,
  • and to rest and recharge their batteries,

the company has a workforce that is better equipped and rested to serve quality products with a great attitude the other 6 days of the week.

His employees love working there so much that the company enjoys a turn-over rate in the low single digits.  That is an incredible feat by any company, but it’s unheard of in the food service industry.  Imagine all of the costs he saves with such low turn-over.

It Attracts the Right Kind of People

Of course, to enjoy these cost savings from low turn-over you have to attract the right people.  The Closed-On-Sunday policy and the Corporate Purpose of Chick-Fil-A sends two important messages according to Mr. Cathy.

One, that there must be something special about the way Chick-Fil-A people view their spiritual life; and, two, that there must be something special about how Chick-Fil-A feels about its people.

Because of this, Chick-Fil-A is able to attract people who “want to be associated with an organization with a values-based vision, is purpose-driven and truly values a balance between work and family.”

It’s the Best Business Decision I’ve Ever Made

Truett Cathy understands what all great entrepreneurs have discovered.  Your business is only as good as your people.

When you understand this, it’s easy to see why he calls it “the best business decision I ever made.”  Looking at the results it’s hard to disagree.

Do you own or work for a company that closes it’s doors on Sundays when your competitors do not?  What has your experience been?

Related posts:

  1. Chick-Fil-A Week at The Christian Entrepreneur What can entrepreneurs learn from the inventor of the chicken sandwich? It turns out quite a bit. Join us for...
  2. Truett Cathy on Being a Christian Entrepreneur (part 2) In the second installment of our series, Truett Cathy talks about Chick-Fil-A's Closed-On-Sunday policy, business ethics, and corporate purpose....
  3. How You Respond to a Thank You Matters Do the words we use to respond to a customer's thank you really matter? I used to think it didn't,...
  4. Truett Cathy on Being a Christian Entrepreneur (part 3) As this series comes to a close, we are reminded by Truett Cathy's giving back to his community of the...
  5. Truett Cathy on Being a Christian Entrepreneur (part 1) This video is the first of three installments of Chick-Fil-A founder Truett Cathy addressing the 2006 Annual Businessmen Committed to...

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison Moore Smith July 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm

It’s always surprising to me how little Sunday is used for worship these days and how much for working, recreating, shopping, etc. I love this post because it’s something no one talks much about anymore.

Be design, Sunday is a day of rest and worship. For us that means we don’t work and it also means we don’t cause others to work by patronizing commercial establishments. We also don’t participate in sports, etc. My husband and I actually graduated from what I understand is the only top-ranked NCAA university that still has a policy against Sunday play. In fact, just this year the shool’s women’s rugby team forfeited the championship game because it was mistakenly scheduled on Sunday. It’s not just posturing, it’s enforced policy.

Believe it or not, really making an effort to keep the Sabbath is not just commandment, it is common sense and it is good business. I don’t think God asks much of us given the other six days can be used for any good commercial purpose. :)

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Brad Harmon July 14, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Growing up I used to be very harsh (at least in my thoughts) towards people who would work on Sundays. I thought they should get a job where they wouldn’t have to work this day. I was in good company at the church I attended so this idea was very much reinforced.

I wonder if it ever occurred to them that every time we went out to eat after church the people waiting on us were working on the Lord’s Day? Was it okay because they were sinners? Today, It’s almost a ritual to go out to eat after worship services. I have to admit that we give very little thought to it.

Ironically, with a morning and evening service on Sundays, we are often very busy with church commitments making it difficult for it to really be a day of rest. Sometimes, I fear that we have lost too much of the Jewishness of our faith. The reverence and importance of the Sabbath in our lives is one of those areas.

Great comments. I love that you always make me think a little deeper.

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Dave W. July 17, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Good article…the Christian aspect aside, your first paragraph sums up why it is good for sales and I would have loved to have seen that aspect delved into further. Obviously their religious convictions are the reason for their closing on Sundays. As a (probably unintentional) side benefit though, Chick-Fil-A sends a subliminal message to its customers who seemingly always crave a Chick-Fil-A sandwich on a Sunday and can’t get it, myself included. As a result, people end up satisfying this craving during the week. I’d be interested to see how their sales compare to other QSR’s on Mondays (traditionally the slowest day of the week in the restaurant business). It’s why you see Wendy’s commercials on late at night when their restaurants are closed and people are settled in for the night; they want those people watching TV to go to Wendy’s the next day for lunch. I think if for some reason they decided to open 7 days, you would not see the same growth that they have experienced. While they would be busy on Sundays, it would just pulling from the business from the other 6 days of the week.

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Brad Harmon July 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm

That’s an interesting point. Truett does joke that he tells his customers they can spend their money anywhere they want on Sundays as long as they spend their money with him the rest of the week. I wonder how many actually do?

It would make an interesting post to delve deeper into the impact this policy has on sales throughout the week compared to those who stay open 7 days. I’m not sure the data we would need is available though since Chick-Fil-A is a privately-held company.

It’s interesting how often there are “unintentional” benefits to following Biblical principles. It’s part of the reason adopting them makes good business sense.

Thanks for the comment. It added a whole new dimension to this conversation.

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Richard G. Bird October 14, 2010 at 8:04 am

Is it okay to conduct church business (i.e, church elections, budget allocations, outreach candidates, etc.) on Sunday?

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Brad Harmon October 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm

That’s a great question Richard. God designed the Sabbath as a day of rest and reflection. It’s a day to give thanks and worship God together with each other. Jesus made the point that if you have an animal in trouble on the Sabbath that it’s okay to take care of it. In other words, emergencies happen and we can’t be too rigid about our rules.

I’m pretty sure that the early Christians did not have to worry about Roberts Rules of Order or building funds. I wonder if it wouldn’t be better if we sold our buildings and just met in parks – it would be tough here in Texas during the summers though. Like it or not, the operating a church today is much more complicated than it was 2,000 years ago. Has it got so complicated though that the example Christ gave for us no longer applies?

I’d say that the business of operating the church is best left for the other 6 days of the week. If there is an emergency, then handle it when it arises. I’m also of the belief though that a true local church interacts with each other throughout the week. If the church is doing this then there are plenty of opportunities to handle church business leaving Sunday still set apart for communal worship time.

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