I recently had the opportunity to participate in a give-away for Chick-fil-A. The ultimate outcome was, as one of the first 100 customers of a new restaurant they were building in my city, I won 52 free #1 combos good for a whole year! If I choose, I can dine at Chick-fil-A once a week for the next year.
I had to camp outside of the restaurant for 24 hours to do it, but given my admitted brand loyalty (I’ve been eating Chick-fil-A since I was a kid growing up in the South, and they have always been my favorite fast food restaurant) it was a worthy endeavor for me. The financial benefits of participating in such a giveaway were clear:
$6.00 per #1 combo x 52 free meals = $312.00 in free food, on an after-tax basis
Now, I took two days off of work to do this (one for the actual event, and one for recovering the day after). Some may say this was completely silly, and they would never do it. Personally, even though it’s not a huge financial boon, to me it was a fun thing to do. Not to mention, I like doing things that have recurring positive benefits. Every time I walk into a Chick-fil-A for the next year, I’ll think about the continual payoff of delicious free food that I worked for. In absolute dollar terms it’s not earth shattering, but the psychological benefit alone of eating free meals over and over are worth it to me.
I arrived on site early at just after 5:30 A.M. ready to start the challenge. There were about 20 other people there as well. After getting my number (customer #13!) and grabbing my packed supplies I went over to the parking lot and began to camp out. I have to say, it was really interesting watching an entire day go by without being inside of a building. Artificial light indoors gives us a false perception of the time of day because the light intensity never changes. Sitting outside for a 24 hour period gives you the full spectrum of sunrise, to noon, to sunset, to the blackness of night. It’s something I hadn’t appreciated in awhile.
Here a picture of the event at the beginning of the day. If I was to do it again, I’d definitely have brought a tent! It rained really hard at around 1 in the morning, and I was really glad I had made a friend who was generous enough to share their tent with me while we waited out the storm.
Finally, after a whole day of waiting, it was time for the grand opening. I lined up with 99 other people eager to claim their prize. When the opening was official, we all walked through the front of the restaurant with team members and a Chick-fil-A cow mascot cheering us on. The manager and the owner-operator of the restaurant were there, and they congratulated each of us personally as we claimed our prize.
I left the premises exhausted, eager to go back home – I had gotten the prize! It took a lot of effort, but it was completely worth it. I say that not simply because of the financial rewards, which were not that much compared to maybe other potential opportunities. However, the life experience was one of a kind. I met all sorts of cool people, and got to talk to them and hear their stories (one of which I will share in an upcoming post). To me, these events are the spice of life. Exposing yourself to new opportunities can many times lead to fun experiences. Routine is important to keep ones sanity, but sometimes breaking out of that and doing something completely different is exactly what’s needed.
I look forward to future events like this – Chik-fil-A has certainly got something going on with building up their brand loyalty. Do you know any other fast food restaurant that does anything like this? If only it was public-traded…I imagine the returns have been spectacular. Those who are able to make it as owner-operators I’m sure rank among the top 5% in annual household income. It just reinforces the fact that there are people building wealth all around us, sometimes in the most unexpected of places.