The Truth Behind Chick-fil-A Cherokee Place


Jacqueline Vargas, Writer

Glenn Jordan lives in Cartersville, Georgia and is currently the operator of two Chick-fil-A franchises. One store is in Cartersville, Georgia and the other is in Emerson, Georgia. He has been married to his wife Suzy for 30 years and they have two kids. Glenn attended college in Decatur, Alabama but later attended Auburn University. Contrary to popular belief, he has not gotten sick of eating Chick-Fil-A. From COVID outbreaks to renovations, running a business is already hard on its own but running two comes with many more strings. However, Glenn still manages to balance his work life and personal life with the help of many different people.


How do you balance having a family and owning a business?

Well, I have really good people [that help me]. So, you know, Brianna, she’s my favorite all-time employee ever, and she runs this store [Chick-fil-A Cherokee Place]. I have somebody in a similar role as Brianna’s at the other store [Chick-fil-A Lake Point]. So, instead of me trying to run two stores, I just try to coach them on being good managers. I like to think of their roles as being shepherds, taking care of the flock. So that works out really well when you have good shepherds, cause if you have bad shepherds, not so good. But we’ve been running two stores for almost six years and every year it gets a little bit easier. If you have one store, you can always jump in and save the day, but when you have two stores, you can’t be at two places at one time. So, it makes you plan further ahead, it makes you invest more.


Did you originally want to major in business?

Yeah, like when I was in high school, I thought I wanted to be a vet because I liked animals and always had dogs and cats, but when I sat in on an operation, I was like this is not for me. So, I just did business because I thought it [business] would apply to more things. I didn’t have a specific desire to run a Chick-fil-A or anything, I just knew that I could use that [business] in a lot of different ways.


With your job, do you feel as if you have social restraints? Like where you must monetize what you post and how you act in public?

Yeah, absolutely. Because people nowadays are looking for a reason to get offended. I can give you an example. So, we have a girl that does the decorating. She decorates the office that we use for interviews. She also does decorations for the stores [Chick-fil-A Cherokee Place and Lake Point], and she used some little cotton bales to decorate both stores and the office. And we had a van load of people came in [to the store] that were highly offended by cotton bales. So, I took the cotton bales down. To me, cotton bales were like, that’s what they grow around cotton, but it did offend some people and it offended people at both locations. So, we try to be sensitive. It’s hard to know sometimes what’s going to happen to people, not when it comes to posts. I think it’s easier to stay away from anything that’s kind of political or even religious. We try to keep it as unoffensive as possible, but it is challenging.


Do you think you handle criticism well?

Well, you have to. I mean, we serve between four to five thousand customers a day, and that’s just transactions. There’s probably more than that, because some of those are families.

I’m just saying that big number, because I think our surveys say that between five and ten percent of those people get the wrong order, or they are not happy with their order. So, you are going to get complaints. It’s never going to be perfect, and there’s always room for growth. So, I try to take it not personally. That’s why I say it’s just information for me to grow people and to grow the business. I used to take it personally and get upset and mad and not be able to sleep, but I got better.


What is your favorite item on the menu?

I still love the original Chick-fil-a sandwiches, better than anything. I had my first sandwich when I was maybe thirteen years old, and I remember my mom saying,” these sandwiches are 99 cents apiece. If you want another one, you’re going to have to eat the whole thing.” So, I ate two of them and that was like nineteen seventy-four or nineteen seventy-five. They were really good, and I have always loved them.


How has COVID affected how you run your business?

Wow. I could talk to you about that all day long. So, there were lots of people that were angry at first because we didn’t have masks on. And then when we put masks on, there were people that

were mad that we did have masks on. So once again, it’s hard to please everybody, but there were expectations that are thrust on you immediately, and we’d never gone through a pandemic before. So, we were kind of making it up as we go. It was hard to know what the right thing was to do. I knew that we were going to survive but our business probably dropped in half overnight. So, we had to make adjustments. Then there was, you know, team members being sick or being exposed to COVID, which meant they couldn’t come to work for weeks. So, we ran short staffed for a year, and that was tough. To me, there’s COVID issues affecting every part of our business because certain distribution centers would literally have to close down, like where they ship us all of our products. If they had a COVID outbreak in that distribution center, there was nobody driving the trucks, and there would be nobody to load the trucks. So, we were short of supplies, short of people, and we had customers coming in complaining about how we were not doing enough. I think we talked about it in our meetings and figured out what our strategy was going to be. And Chick-fil-A incorporated was giving us directions too, on what they expected us to do. So, we eventually got it figured out, but it was a process. It took a long time.


How did shutting down this Chick-fil-A for renovations affect your business?

That was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. We have two stores, so we stopped hiring and we just brought everybody from one store [Chick-fil-A Cherokee Place] to the other store [Chick-fil-A Lake Point], which I thought was going to be great. Well, I brought all these people to the other store, and they didn’t like each other. So, they fought like cats and dogs. Then when we got ready to reopen this store [Chick-fil-A Cherokee Place], we brought about 50 people that survived the move into the other store. And then we hired a hundred people. So, you had a hundred new people and 50 people that knew what they were doing, which is not good. You really need more people that know what they’re doing, than don’t know what they’re doing because we couldn’t take care of those people. They got in this pent-up demand in the community too. So, when the store reopened, we got killed. We had these brand-new people that don’t know what they’re doing that are getting mobbed. So, they’re quitting faster than we can hire them. And that went on for the first year. It was just hard to hold onto people. And the customers were frustrated too, but I think now we’re on year 3 in the new building. Now, we have really good people and we’re not having to hire a hundred people at a time. So, if you hire 10 or 15 people a month, you can assimilate them into the plan and the culture, um, kind of rubs off on them instead of a hundred new people.


How do you give back to your community?

So, let’s see I’m involved with the GateKey program. I’m on the Board of the College Foundation, but I love going to the [Cartersville] high school and talking to them [the students], especially the GateKey kids. They’re just really hungry and really looking for directions and are teachable. I’ve been on a couple of boards, like the chamber of commerce. I’ve been involved with the salvation army, and advocates for children for almost ten years. We try to be generous with anybody that asks for chicken, like if they want sandwiches. For habitat humanity, if they’re building a house, we’ll provide lunches for that. We had a tornado come through Adairsville one time and we provided about a hundred sandwiches for the people that were helping clean that up. So, anything that is helpful for the community is good for us to get involved with. I always say just, you know, it’s just food, but it makes an impression. So, I always say yes to those kinds of things.


What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur?

Wow. Well, find a place that holds the same value as you do, and make mistakes before you’re on your own. Learn all you can and that’s one of my hopes for people that work here is. You know, you can come here and just get a paycheck, or you can learn about every aspect of this business. So that if you do open your own store or whatever you want to be, you don’t have to make the same mistakes everybody else makes, you can see how it works or how it doesn’t work.


What goals do you hope to accomplish a year from now for the store?


So, there’s this big reward, and this is just for Chick-fil-A, it’s called the champions club. And it’s a twenty percent sales increase with a fifteen percent net profit. And I think our average net profit for the last two or three years has been probably twelve or thirteen percent. This year for the whole year, one store is about I think, sixteen and a half. And the other one’s like right at sixteen. So, if we can just survive three more months, we’ll win the 20% increase, because we’re so much busier than we were last year and COVID helped us with this because our sales went down when COVID hit. So, it made this year easier to reach the sales goal, but the profit part has always been the hardest. So, if we get a twenty percent increase, then they allow me to get a car. If you make the maximum quota, you get eighty thousand dollars. So, we’re on pace right now to get the maximum quota, but that’s a fun award. I don’t really set out to win a new car cause I’m driving a 20-year-old truck and I kind of like it. But I’ve never won the champions club. So, I would love to, before I hang [the job] up, you know. More importantly, I hope that the people that are working here are growing and moving on to bigger and better things. And that doesn’t have to be just Chick-fil-A. There was a guy that worked with us about two years ago, that’s fixing to get his own store in Tucson, Arizona. And I’m so excited for him. That’s what I like to see. And it doesn’t have to be Chick-fil-A, but if I help somebody get from not knowing what they want to do to figuring it out and helping them get there, that’s what gets me excited, wanting to come to work.