A taste for success

Sellersburg’s Schleicher
has the magic touch

She owns 55 KFC stores in four states

By Dixie Endicott
Special to RoundAbout

(June 2005) – The road to success is paved with tenacity, organization and cleanliness, according to Alice Schleicher. And this woman knows a thing or two about success.
“Attitude is your altitude” and “There’s no place to be lazy in this world to be successful” are just a couple of pieces of Schleicher’s sage advice.

Alice Schleicher

Alice Schleicher

Schleicher, owner of the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Madison, Ind., has been a KFC franchisee for 28 years. Her operation grew from one store in 1977 to 55 today. The restaurants are all close to I-65 in four states – Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee.
Schleicher says she never intended to own a restaurant. Her son, Rick, then 16, was working at a local KFC when he came home one day and told his mother the restaurant was for sale and he wanted to buy it.
Schleicher says she knew nothing about fast food. She did, however, know two things that helped in the early days: one can never be too clean, and one must be well-organized.
Life moved quickly for Schleicher, who had another child at home, was deeply involved in her community and worked as her church’s organist.
Today, Schleicher’s daughter, Kimra, and her husband, Richard, are also involved in the business.
“She comes from a farming background. They work from sun up to sun down,” says Kimra. She remembers the very long days her mother put in while Kimra was growing up.

KFC Madison

Photo by Debra Maylum

Alice Schleicher has built a KFC franchise
empire, including the recently renovated
location in Madison (above).

Kimra also quotes one of her mother’s favorite bits of advice, “People don’t care how much you know. They want to know how much you care.”
Kimra says she grew up in the first store and because of encouragement from her mother, went on to college and law school. After receiving her law degree, Kimra worked for state government in Indianapolis for six years but returned to “the amazing opportunities” she says she found in her family’s business. And as she has matured, Kimra realizes the risks her mother has taken in life and how humble she remains after all her success.
The Schleichers have been married 47 years and live in Borden, Indiana, near Sellersburg, also home to the first store.
“Every day of your life is a book,” says the entrepreneur who attends church every Sunday. “I am a missionary. It doesn’t matter where you go, you minister to young people all the time.”
She especially ministers to people through her business, which employs scores of young people. Schleicher sees work as an opportunity to put her Methodist beliefs into practice. She is always willing to lend an ear to her young charges and tells them she is “a phone call away” if needed.
The Golden Rule is very important to her. “I treat everyone like I like to be treated,” she says. “The Colonel (KFC founder Harland Sanders) said if you take care of customers and treat them right, they’ll come back.”
A well-traveled success story, Schleicher was heading to Hong Kong in late May. She will visit stores there and in Beijing, China. This will be her third trip to Hong Kong, and Schleicher says it is one of her favorite cities in the world.
Schleicher, or someone in her family, tries to attend the Madison Regatta each year. “Madison people are wonderful,” she says. Schleicher saw the movie, “Madison,” and gives it a big thumbs up.
When asked about her advice for young women who aspire to a business career, Schleicher says she grew up on a farm with a “good old-fashioned German mother” who kept her involved in lots of activities.
“Set your goals high. There is great opportunity if you work hard. Be honest, sincere with people. Always be truthful. There is no reason to lie. When you’re honest, people will see that. You must have integrity,” is how Schleicher counsels young people. Mental toughness is also key to success according to this employer of 1,250.
Rosilda Miksell has worked at the Madison store for 16 years. She plans the daily buffet. Both women say they are planning to add oven-roasted chicken without skin, seasoned with just the right special spices, to the menu. They hope to introduce more sugar-free items.

KFC Madison Inside

Photo by Debra Maylum

The Madison KFC restaurant
was recently renovated.

Schleicher understands there is little time to cook these days and notes a healthy diet includes vegetables, offered at KFC. She calls KFC chicken “the best in the world.” The new Snacker sandwiches are a big hit with the public, she says.
A motivational speaker, Schleicher says she schedules things with her family and calls her family “wonderful.” As busy as she was, she only missed one of her daughter’s high school basketball games and managed to preside over the band parents association.
Schleicher says she is able to do all all the things any employee in her restaurants can do. Otherwise, she feels she would not be a good example.
All of her skills were put to the test last winter when the huge December snowfall closed down nearby highways.
Schleicher was picked up in a four-wheeler and plowed her way through more than 30 inches of snow into the store in Sellersburg, where a crowd of stranded motorists lined out the door.
Schleicher remembers how a five-gallon pot of coffee disappeared in no time. She felt an obligation to those people and did not want them to freeze to death on the road. Schleicher and a small crew managed to feed the hungry on that never-to-be-forgotten winter day just before Christmas.
Providing 180 meals per month for the homeless in Southern Indiana and numerous charitable activities keep Schleicher practicing her faith year-round. She is also active on state and local boards of directors for Ivy Tech State College, recipient of numerous business awards and active in KFC Franchisee business associations. Schleicher has received the KFC State Sales Award and Million Dollar Store Sales Awards several times.
Madison KFC restaurant General Manager Michelle Boldery of Hanover says, “I really look up to Alice. The reason she retains her store managers is because she is like a mother. She really cares and wants people to thrive.”
Boldery says the local store is thriving, too, up around 18 percent over last year’s sales. A storewide renovation last winter has helped bring in new customers, she said.
A store manager in Madison for six years, Boldery started as a cashier 11 years ago and has worked her way up. Boldery says she is proud to work for Schleicher.
Schleicher takes a page out of her own book and practices what she teaches – caring about others and treating them like she would like to be treated, Boldery says.
Karen Miner, a KFC Corporate Franchisee Business Coach for southern Indiana, has worked with Schleicher for “12 to 15 years.” Miner says of her long-time associate, “She is a leader in the KFC system – very dedicated toward people. She’s a great coach and a joy to work with.”
Miner cites the national leadership Schleicher has undertaken in the KFC system and says Schleicher really cares about quality.
According to her family, employees and associates, this woman proves every day she knows a thing or two about success.

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