7 Important Lessons to Learn From the Chick-fil-A Business Model

In 2016 alone, fast-food giant Chick-fil-A earned over 4 million dollars per store… and they were only open 6 days a week!

With this kind of revenue stream, you can bet there’s something more to Chick-fil-A’s astounding success besides its scrumptious peach shakes and pickle-covered chicken sandwiches.

So what is the “secret sauce” that makes this restaurant able to earn more revenue per restaurant than any other U.S. fast-food place?

Here’s the gist of the Chick-fil-A business model, and how you can follow suit.

What is the Chick-fil-A Business Model?

Chew on this: Chick-fil-A somehow manages to make millions more, per restaurant, than other fast-food top dogs like McDonald’s and Taco Bell. In 2016, Taco Bell had around 6,300 U.S. locations, and McDonald’s had over 14,000.

Chick-fil-A? A mere 2,100 locations.

Not to mention, Taco Bell and McDonald’s are generally open 7 days a week. There’s no question Chick-fil-A is doing something different with its business model.

Customer Service

Ask just about any Chick-fil-A customer why they continue to go back and one of the top reasons (besides the delicious tasting food), is the customer service.

Interested in a little experiment to test the customer service of Chick-fil-A employees? Next time you buy food, tell your server “thank you!”

Guaranteed, they will always reply with a courteous “my pleasure.”

This response is part of their in-depth employee training and requirements. They are truly expected and taught to enjoy providing service to others.

But how does a serious commitment to great customer service trickle down to each employee? It’s all in the training. Chick-fil-A takes a serious, hands-on approach to training each new employee on the importance of great customer service.

On their website, the company states its policy on how employees are expected to treat customers:

“Whether it’s treating customers like friends, or serving our communities like neighbours, we believe kindness is a higher calling.”

With a mindset like this taught and expected of each employee, from custodians to managers, you can bet customers are satisfied.

Caring for Employees

The saying “happy employees make for happy customers” is true.

When it comes to training employees, it may be Chick-fil-A’s investment in each individual that is most effective at producing happy employees. As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

A major part of employee training at Chick-fil-A includes management asking what employees’ future career goals are.

Then, managers are expected to help employees work towards those dreams–whether they are in the food industry or not.

Since 1973, Chick-fil-A has awarded over $61 million dollars to employees in scholarship donations to help them pursue career dreams.

Chick-fil-A is also well known for being very generous with both its employees and its franchise communities. Many employees have reported having Chick-fil-A donate food for local events or even to hospitals during employee stays.

Employees are also motivated by opportunities to advance within the company in many areas. Good work can lead to director positions in areas like drive-thru operations, kitchen operations, sanitation and more.

There’s plenty of room for upward growth.

Giving Back to Communities

July 9th is burned into the minds of avid Chick-fil-A goers as “cow appreciation day.” It’s the day that any customer who enters a Chick-fil-A location, dressed as a cow, receives a free Chick-fil-A sandwich.

When you add it up, that’s a lot of Chick-fil-A sandwiches given away for free every year. But Chick-fil-A has always had a reputation for giving.

Whether it be donating food to stranded hurricane victims, tornado victims, and even the Orlando shooting victims, Chick-fil-A is there.

The company has a strong vision statement and policy about giving back to communities. They are known for donating food to local community events like “daddy-daughter date nights,” supporting local school fundraisers, and even providing food for military appreciation events.

This idea that giving to a community is essential to good business practice has built a strong reputation for selflessness for the Chick-fil-A brand.

The restaurant is widely seen as one where people are important and profits aren’t everything.

Though interestingly enough, the more emphasis Chick-fil-A seems to place on furthering the interests of its own people and communities, the more profits it turns.

Quality Product

The age-old question, “what came first, the food or the business model,” still exists.

While all these amazing and unique aspects of Chick-fil-A’s business model have absolutely contributed to its success, there’s still the vital aspect of Chick-fil-A’s product.

It is unimpeachable.

Think about it. If you’ve ever eaten at a Chick-fil-A, besides an impeccably clean bathroom, a friendly cashier, and a cup of carnations on the table, what stood out to you the most?

It was probably that 50-year-old recipe for the most delectable chicken sandwich you’ve ever tasted. Chick-fil-A definitely delivers on its food.

Keeping up with the times, the company has also committed to creating a more healthy menu. It’s eliminated all trans fats from its recipes and foods.

By 2019, Chick-fil-A will no longer serve any antibiotic-affected meats.

Not to mention, you have various delicious options for things other than their world-famous waffle fries. There are fresh fruit cups, side salads, oranges, and milk. Perhaps the craziest thing is that these other healthy options actually taste great.

Changes like these communicate to customers that their tastes and health are valuable to the company. This is something most other fast-food chains are struggling to get a handle on.

How to Follow Suit

The Chick-fil-A business model is one to seriously consider as you build your own foundation for a successful business. The essentials like a quality product, putting people first, giving back, and outstanding customer service are no-brainers.

The tricky part comes in when you must decide for yourself what your company’s mission statement must be. Building a business with purpose is the bulwark of staying inspired.

A driving purpose will motivate employees and customers alike to love what your business has to offer.

For more inspiration on developing your brand, read our post on these 8 brand development strategies.