The Success of KFC

Yesterday evening Trisha and I sat there looking at each other with no idea about what to have for dinner. So I went all out – only the best, classy that I am – and “took her” to KFC for some chicken.

Sometimes the craving just hits. We were the only “dining in” customers, and we sat at a shabby formica table enjoying our meals eaten out of cardboard and plastic, while teenagers paraded in and out and the drive-through was humming.

If I don’t go too often, I actually enjoy KFC. I order their original recipe and I generally like it.

I remember hearing about Col. Sanders (supposedly the founder and the guy on the logo picture) in motivational programs decades ago. When he got out of the military with nothing to do and not enough money to make it, he wanted to start franchising his chicken recipe. Nobody was interested. He went on the road and started knocking on doors. He was turned down, turned down and turned down. Legend has it that he was rejected by more than 1,000 owners of restaurants before he convinced the first one.

Today, every day, more than 12 million customers are served at KFC restaurants in 109 countries and territories around the world. KFC operates more than 5,200 restaurants in the United States and more than 15,000 units around the world. KFC is world-famous for its Original Recipe® fried chicken — made with the same secret blend of 11 herbs and spices Col. Sanders perfected more than a half-century ago. Customers around the globe also enjoy more than 300 other products — from Kentucky Grilled Chicken in the United States to a salmon sandwich in Japan.

In China alone, starting with one restaurant in 1987, KFC now operates 3,200 KFCs stores. Col. Sanders’ picture is far more popular and displayed in China than that of Mao. Their target is to have to 20,000 stores in China. KFC is far more widespread in China than McDonald’s is, the world’s largest restaurant chain.

So what is my point? The seemingly runaway success of 15,000 stores worldwide, with far more to go, did not come by accident. If Col. Sanders, more than 50 years ago, had stopped knocking of doors  after 999 tries, there would be no KFC today. A good chicken recipe made KFC, but perseverance and iron will, against all odds, against better advice, is what really created the company.