Chick-fil-A celebrates 10-millionth customer

Amy Turner got more than what she expected when she stopped at the Chick-fil-A Dwarf House restaurant in Stockbridge, Thursday, to buy a soda, and a frozen dessert.

As the 26-year-old Locust Grove resident approached the counter to place her order, one employee stationed near the register rang a red cow bell. Other employees clapped, cheered, and applauded. Two employees dressed in Chick-fil-A's spotted cow costumes, danced. Then, Turner was congratulated Ramsey Walker, the store's general manager, for becoming the 10-millionth customer to walk in the door since the nationally-known eatery opened 18 years ago, at 3649 Ga. Highway 138 S.E.

Turner, a frequent customer, came to the store after dropping off her 5-year-old daughter, Charlee Turner, at the "Sirens for Santa" event at the Wal-Mart on North Henry Boulevard in Stockbridge.

"My little girl is going to trip out," continued the Chick-fil-A winner. "She won't believe it, until I give her a cow, and tell her she can eat Chick-fil-A forever, her favorite thing in the world."

Turner gasped in shock when she learned she was the customer chosen to receive free Chick-fil-A meals for a year.

Her order was a simple one, but Turner said she was taken aback when she learned what number customer she was.

"I got an ice cream, and then I wanted a Dr. Pepper to finish it off," she said. "It took me surprise."

Turner said she loves ice cream, and said she stops at the Stockbridge Chick-fil-A "almost every day."

Turner was aware of the store's special giveaway, and saw the store's promotional sign when she and a friend went through the drive-through several days earlier. However, she said she did not expect to be a winner.

"We were so joking. I was like, ‘I never win anything, that would be insane,'" she added. "This is really cool."

The promotion was a way to put the spotlight on customers, said Walker, who originally opened the store in 1992.

The restaurant's sales receipts totaled close to $4 million in 2010, but Walker said he wanted to focus on the customer service aspect, instead.

"Our last three years, we've been trying to go past $4 million in sales in one year, so this year we're going to do that," said Walker. "Instead of advertising $4 million, I went back 18 years, and I thought, ‘gee, we're coming up on our 10-millionth customer."'

The 10-millionth customer was calculated counting up the number of sales at each register, he explained.

"At the end of every day, our registers tell us every customer that gets counted," said the general manager. "Each register has its own number of customers. Then I can call the home office, and they can go back 18 years, and say, ‘well this is how many customers you've had.'"

The Chick fil-A restaurant chain was founded in the 1940s S. Truett Cathy. Walker said what makes the chain so popular is its focus on people.

"I think it's the customer service, and the product," he added.