Deliciously Delightful – The Culver’s Way

I love what I do. I meet wonderful people all over the world. Recently, I was invited by the President and CEO of Culver’s to come and spend time with 1,100 of their franchisees, team members, executive team, and support center from around the USA. This is a thirty-three-year-old company with deep Wisconsin roots. Perhaps you’ve heard of them; they are famous for their butter burgers and ice cream custard. Now, if anyone knows me, then you know that I love Chick-fil-A and am a really big fan of the Cathy family, the operator culture, and it’s people.

Well, I have a confession to make: the people of Culver’s have taken a page out of the Chick-fil-A handbook and have put their own spin on hospitality. They are rock solid with authentic Midwestern values to boot.

In fact, the co-founder of Culver’s, Craig Culver, came backstage after my keynote address, shook my hand and gave me a big bear hug. I am telling you -- his spirit exuded positivity. Then I met the franchisees, and they all had the same characteristic.

Here are five ideas I learned from my time with them that you may apply to your business:

  1. People are the point of differentiation – If you hire the right people and put them in the right environment, anything is possible. Pay them well and take care of them. If you do, there is nothing in the world they won’t do for the brand.
  2. It Starts with Heart – Culver’s believes that it all starts with the heart. Their philosophy is simple, and that is: this is not the place where you come just to do a job. This is where you come to work because you love it. If your heart’s not in what you are doing, then Culver’s is not the place for you.
  3. Consistently obsess over the details – Culver’s prides itself on asking guests a very simple question: “How’s your meal?” I remember eating at Culver’s in Bonita Springs, FL. I ordered my food and sat in the dining room. A smiling young man brought my order to me. He was pleasant and asked me if I needed any additional condiments. These simple gestures blew me away.
  4. Small is the New Big – Culver’s currently has about 600 locations in 22 states and are poised to expand nationwide with a rock solid executive team. Additionally, I was so pleased to see that they have several women in key executive roles. Catalyst says that organizations that have women in key roles positively impacts their bottom line.
  5. Invest in your community and your community will invest in you – Culver’s is the central meeting place for many of its guests. They pride themselves on hiring teenagers from the high schools in the area. They pour into the values of what it means to show up on time, smile, and be hospitable to guests. They don’t just stop there; they also provide scholarships for employees to attend college. These important gestures cement their commitment to provide jobs and hope for a better future.

The next time you see a Culver’s, I would encourage you to experience why they are deliciously delightful.