Move over Chick-fil-A, @eatPDQ puts a fresh take on both fast food and CX


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PDQ CX Takeaways

chick-fil-a cheerios

Cheerios for Chick-fil-A customers in training

I’m a Chick-fil-A devotee. I consider being close to the “inventor of the chicken sandwich” as one of the major plusses of my recent move to Cary, North Carolina. Last year I wrote a post entitled, “Move over Big Mac: Here Comes 10 Little Marketing Lessons from the Folks at Chick-fil-A.” Chick-fil-A gets customer experience when it comes to both value and maintenance. They are a Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer (see slideshare).

Now Enter PDQ

In the last six months, another QSR focused on poultry has entered the Triangle. Hailing from Florida, PDQ (People Dedicated to Quality) is a fast-casual restaurant specializing in hand-breaded chicken tenders, hand-tossed salads, sandwiches, fresh cut fries and hand spun milkshakes and malts. According to their website,

“The restaurant was founded on the concept that high-quality food, memorable service and genuine hospitality are the cornerstones to a great restaurant.”

Welcoming staff, wonderful hot tenders and an assortment of homemade sauces. I was smitten after my first trip and have returned many times. I visited last week with my Father in Law Fred Wills.

Here is Fred’s account:

me and fred wills

“Accompanied by my daughter’s family, we were introduced to PDQ (“People Dedicated to Quality) in Cary, NC. A bright, clean and attractive restaurant staffed by friendly, welcoming personnel. Matthew introduced himself when we entered. Upon learning that we were from Connecticut and visiting for the holidays, he demonstrated true southern hospitality. We were treated to a FREE beverage with our roasted (no preservatives, Butterball) turkey sandwich that contained a slab of cranberry.

We were most impressed with the following at PDQ

– courteous, friendly service
– a free coupon with our meal
– meals, cooked to order
– a wash station conveniently located outside of the restrooms
– two (2) ladies rooms

It was an overall highly enjoyable experience. I hope to see PDQ establish restaurants in the near future in New England.”

9 CX Takeaways from PDQ

pdq pedestal

Keith hands me my fresh meal

#1. Your name is the sweetest sound – PDQ asks for your name when you order. Food is handed out on a pedestal by a manager, “Stan – Your Fresh Meal is Ready” is announced via microphone. It’s a great consistent way to #1. demonstrate hospitality, #2. reinforce a key message and #3. maintain the quality of preparation. Convenient and so much nice than, “Number 384.”


#2. Color Me Good – Workers at PDQ wear three colors. It’s dead simple. Back of house wears black, front of house wears green and the managers wear a white chef coat.

photo (22)

#3. Wash Stations – This is genius especially for families. PDQ has a wash station conveniently located outside the bathrooms. There is nothing worse than trying to get your kids to wash their hands before eating in a crowded or dirty bathroom.


#4. Half-Price Shakes Every Day – If you are going to run a special, be consistent and run it every day. This is so simple, but it gets missed. Case in point: If you are in Portland,  the pub Kell’s plays live Irish music seven days a week. No one ever has to ask themselves, “I wonder if they are playing live music tonight at Kell’s?” Likewise, shakes at PDQ are 1/2 price every day from 3-5 p.m.

pdq open concept

#5. Open Prep – Keep it open. Similar to Five Guys, I like how the kitchen is fairly open. To drive the point home, PDQ even has a window where you can watch the team prep while using the drive-thru.

pdq cheerwine

#6. Local Flavor – Even if you are a chain, make attempts to adopt something local. For PDQ in NC, that’s a soft drink called Cheerwine. A burgundy-red soft drink. This hypercarbonated cherry concoction is named for its appearance. Established in 1917 in Salisbury, it is considered by many as “the Nectar of North Carolina” and enjoys a cult following. Some call it “adult crack.”

#7. T-Shirt Shakes – Buy a T-shirt at PDQ and when you wear it on future visits you get a complimentary milkshake with your meal.

#8. Repeat After Me, “May I” – PDQ repeats your order after they take it and asks for confirmation. I know this irks some people, but for the 98.7% of us who like our order to be right this is a welcome step. Similar to Chick-fil-A, PDQ also comes around to clean tables. It’s a nice gesture and I like the language they use. “May I take that for you?”

coca cola freestyle at PDQ

#9. Freestyle Soda – This is a hit with my 6 and 7 year old boys. The Coca Cola freestyle machine allows for 100+ different options of soft drinks.

I’m going to pirate a famous quote by Mark Twain. He famously said, ‘There are only two types of people in this world. Those that have been to Taj Mahal… and those who haven’t.” Which category are you in for PDQ? If you’ve been, what was your experience like?

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra for good measure) – Wanna look inside PDQ? Here is Brooks Briz from the Falls of Neuse store in Raleigh:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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