Chick-fil-A is one of the most popular fast-food chains in America. This is evidenced by the fact that nearly every time I drive past a Chick-fil-A, there are cars wrapped around the parking lot. It is such a popular and lucrative store that many people apply to own one. However, did you know that less than 1% of people who apply to own a Chick-fil-A get accepted? Entrepreneur Dan Curran is one of those few. He owns Chick-fil-A Harbour View in Suffolk, Virginia, but he had to go through many phone and in-person interviews before becoming the proprietor. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dan and hear about his life, how he came to own a Chick-fil-A, and how doing so impacted his life and others’ lives.
Dan’s Journey to Chick-fil-A
Dan Curran was born in October of 1959 in Detroit, Michigan. He was one of five children, and his childhood consisted of playing from dusk till dawn. As a child, Dan dreamed of becoming an Airforce pilot. His father inspired that dream by working as a bomber pilot during World War II. Dan grew up listening to his father’s stories of the war. However, when Dan was fifteen years old, his oldest brother got in a car accident, killing his wife and leaving him paralyzed. Dan’s brother laid in a coma for a year, and Dan let go of his dream to help take care of his brother. Dan’s parents were his strength to get through this hardship, and they inspired him to become the man he is today. Even though Dan let go of his dream of becoming an Airforce pilot, he found another calling, the lumber industry.
During Dan’s young adult life, he worked in a lumber yard. He loaded lumber, drove trucks, and eventually worked his way up to becoming a lumber salesman, raising his pay. As a lumber salesman, he sold directly to professional builders and helped determine the amount of lumber the builders needed. Dan revealed that about ten to fifteen years ago, most lumber salesmen would make about 2 million dollars a year. However, Dan made an average of 21 million dollars his last year.
While Dan was still working in lumber, he developed an interest in the Chick-fil-A corporation and felt led by God in that direction. For two and a half years, Dan interviewed with Chick-fil-A, and after twenty interviews, Chick-fil-A offered him a franchise. When Dan transitioned to Chick-fil-A, the lumber industry’s sales drastically decreased. Chick-fil-A initially gave him a store in Cleveland, Ohio, but moved him to Harbour View, VA, because Cleveland was a declining city, and they were faithful to carry out their promises to him.
What Chick-fil-A Means to Dan
Dan’s parents inspired him to become a strong man in God. Their inspiration in his life shaped him for Chick-fil-A. God’s direction and Chick-fil-A’s purpose statement were the reasons why Dan decided to go from lumber to Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A’s purpose is “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
Dan prides himself in giving his all in everything, from his family to his work. This attitude allowed him to become an admirable Chick-fil-A owner because he was willing to give his all to the company. Dan looks forward to working at Chick-fil-A every day because he sees Chick-fil-A as more than a job; he sees it as a mission that God has called him to. Dan quoted Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, “A job is what you’re paid for, and a mission is what you’re made for.”
Dan’s mission statement at Chick-fil-A Harbour View is “Eyes up, Hearts open.” To him, this statement means that you pay attention to what others need and try to provide what you can to help those in need. The dynamic that Chick-fil-A provides allows Dan to live out that mission statement. As a franchise owner, you get to know your customers and what is going on in their lives. Dan loves that part of the job because he wants to provide more than good food and customer service. He strives to provide a positive experience, whether it is a kind word or a smile from an employee.
This attitude at Chick-fil-A allows God to bless the company. Dan mentioned that Chick-fil-A makes about 6 to 7 million dollars a year, and his store is grossing 9 million this year. Interestingly, Chick-fil-A closes on Sundays, the busiest day of the week for fast food industries. Dan believes Chick-fil-A’s has had so much success in part because they dedicate their Sundays to God. Chick-fil-A’s attitude and dedication to God and their customers are the reasons why Dan Curran loves working for the company.
Dan lives every day for the glory of God, and this mentality allows him to serve others with a humble heart. Chick-fil-A’s ten-year goal is to become the most caring company. To do that, you have to be willing to serve others humbly. Dan wants to accomplish that goal by being a positive light in everyone’s life, including both employees and customers. He sees Chick-fil-A as more than a job; he wants his employees to look forward to each workday.
To achieve this goal, Dan encourages his employees to think of each other as family so they’ll work as a united team. He demonstrates that attitude to his employees by pitching in where he can, including scooping fries or packaging orders. His willingness to pitch in gives the employees a sense of appreciation. Dan wants his employees to know they can impact others’ lives because you feel valued when you value others and make them feel special. Dan impacts his employees daily with his positive attitude and effort to ensure everyone’s needs are met.
Through this interview, I learned that Chick-fil-A desires to employ people who care for others. Dan Curran is one of those people. At the end of the interview, two of Dan’s statements really stuck with me. The first was: “We all have problems. It’s just how you face them.” Dan shared that having a positive attitude in everything we do will get us far. His other statement described under-promising and going beyond the employer’s expectations. This statement resonated with me because Dan’s example demonstrated that you gain people’s trust and create relationships when you under-promise and provide more than you promised. Dan Curran is an employer that cares for his employees and creates an inviting work culture.
NOTE: If this work environment appeals to you, Chick-fil-A Harbour View is approximately thirty minutes away from Regent University Campus and hiring.
Feature image courtesy of USA Restaurants.