One of the south’s most popular franchises is none other than Chick-fil-A. Whether you spring out of bed to make it in time for Chick-n-Minis™, brave the lunch rush for a sandwich or become everyone’s best friend by bringing a platter of nuggets to an event, this fast food staple is a fan favorite.
Cody Hopper has served as the Owner/Operator of Chick-fil-A’s Skibo location for almost two years, but his journey with the business goes back much further than that.
“I was at college at NC State, obtaining my bachelor’s degree in sports management. I wanted to be a coach, I wanted to be athletic director at a high school or something like that. I just used Chick-fil-A as a part time job just to help me put myself through school and didn’t even think about it as a career, so once I kind of caught the ‘bug’ if you will and pursued Chick-fil-A, I saw that there was a lot more opportunity than what I initially had pursued in the sports world...” remarked Hopper.
Hopper worked his way through the ranks at the company and was then able to apply to Chick-fil-A’s Leadership Development Program conducted out of their support center in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a 24 to 30 month program that serves as a pipeline for dedicated employees to become franchisees in the Chick-fil-A system.
“There’s two facets to it [the program]. There’s a grand opening side which is [where] you kind of partner alongside the operator and you help set them up, you have trainers that come in that you’re responsible for and you help just ensure their business is off to great success within a few months of opening. And then from the other side, it's called an interim manager program, where, let’s say a location loses his operator due to termination or, or death or whatever the case may be, there's a half of the program that goes in and fills those which will be known as a corporate run restaurant for the
interim. And then you get thrown around every two to three months in that program. And so, hopefully you've learned over time within two to two and a half years of all those assignments, then you’re able to tell a really good story of how you’ve grown in your business acumen and your leadership capacity to become your own franchise operator,” explained Hopper.
Chick-fil-A franchisees do not have to complete this company led training program. Individuals can also apply externally, but Hopper suggests that interested individuals connect with local operators to learn the systems and processes and procedures. Having completed the Leadership Development Program, he encourages aspiring Chick-fil-A franchisees “to go all in to make it the best opportunity for you and your family.”
Prior to owning and operating the Skibo location Hopper helped bring the Hope Mills location to the greater Fayetteville area in early 2020. He’s now been with Chick-fil-A for almost 14 years.
“At the end of the day, our corporate purpose, our vision, the values of the company is what I really gravitated towards because that’s what I was brought up with, values and morals and ethics that align with Chick-fil-A so it made it just so easy for me to want to go into business with the Cathy family and ultimately Chick-fil-A Inc,” shared Hopper.
There are now 10 different Chick-fil-A locations in the greater Fayetteville area as a new location just recently celebrated its grand opening in Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. Chick-fil-A works to foster a sense of community and collaboration amongst area owners as opposed to competition.
“We all meet and we collaborate
on things we want to do as a market.
How our results align with each other and how we can really help each other if there’s somebody struggling with a certain area of the business if that’s hiring, retention or if it’s sales and brand growth, if it’s any kind of marketing any kind of different aspects, or any marketing efforts we want to do as a whole market together just to really continue to grow the brand here and in greater Fayetteville. So it’s really cool that we can lean on each other and have support right down the road,” shared Hopper.
Hopper is dedicated to both Chick-fil-A and his community, and he finds that his position with Chick-fil-A allows him to have a positive impact in the area.
“The biggest thing is I get to provide the local ownership of a meaningful brand. Being a local owner means you get to hire and retain just the top talent that’s in the area. So we pull from a lot of the schools, public and private, we have the universities in the area from FTCC to FSU and Methodist and so forth. There's just a big talent pool there...[I have] the opportunity to really take care of our community, so I sit on several boards throughout Cumberland County [so] that I really can make an impact and have a big influence in our community. That's just the awesome opportunity with a brand such as Chick-fil-A, because everybody knows and loves it, but it’s also a great opportunity to have the influence, but also the results that come with those relationships
as well,” shared Hopper.
While becoming a franchisee wasn’t the initial plan for Hopper, he embraced the opportunity that was in front of him and is proud of the path he has taken.
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