How does Chick-fil-A do it?

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.

Chick-fil-A is the 3rd largest restaurant chain based on total revenue in the United States behind McDonalds and Starbucks.  Remarkable when they are closed on Sundays and have many less stores.  They easily generate the most sales per store of any fast-food restaurant in the United States.  They seem to be next in line to overtake the giants in front of them, but how do they do it?

It all started in Atlanta, GA.  S. Truett Kathy grew up watching his mom cook chicken in traditional southern fashion.  In May of 1946, Truett and his brother started the Dwarf Grill.  All they could scrape up was a little over $10,000 to build a very modest restaurant.  Today, there are still 12 Dwarf House Grill’s operating in America.  In those early days, Truett, a devout Christian, said he did his best and let God do the rest!

In 1967, after Dwarf House had become a success, the very first Chick-fil-A opened in Atlanta, GA.  At first, all restaurants were in the food courts of malls.  It was in those early days, that Truett Kathy decided to run the company on Christian principles.  It was not until the 1980s that Chick-fil-A became the stand alone stores that we know them as today.  By 1993, they had opened 500 total restaurants and were a booming business.  In 2000, the privately held company hit $1 billion in annual sales.  This was the year that Kathy and his family agreed in covenant to always stay closed on Sunday and remain a privately held company for its existence.

Closing Sunday’s “costs” the company over $3 billion in sales annually, however is this really what would happen?  Chick-fil-A’s Mission Statement is to “Glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”  Their service is rated the best in the fast-food restaurant business, and it typically is not even close.  They smile and serve people in a way that is not seen much in the 2020s.  Is it really that hard to smile when you take an order?  There was a study done which shares that Chick-fil-A attendants smile much more than attendants at any other fast-food restaurant. 

Truett always said that to care for our employees and their family’s business will have profit.  He saw no conflict between balancing the pursuit of profit with personal character through simply applying Biblical principles.  These principles were simply:

  1. Honoring the Sabbath
  2. Building a loving atmosphere for employees to enjoy their work life
  3. Creating a culture that sets, expects, and rewards high standards and performance
  4. Giving customers “A” level service with courtesy (that is what the “A” in Chick-fil-A stands for)
  5. Following the Golden Rule, treating others respectfully and gives God the glory.
  6. Having quality products, i.e., chicken sandwiches and chicken J
  7. Delivering to all stakeholders with consistency and simplicity
  8. Exhibiting good stewardship over the $4 million restaurant investment and maintain its cleanliness for customers to enjoy.
  9. Selecting franchise operators with similar character and strong skills

Heading into a Chick-fil-A is actually an “experience.”  They are truly a lifestyle brand which allows the customer to experience the love and care in which they deliver their service.  The young workers are excited and ready to serve, and this gives a true experience not just a food transaction.  Chick-fil-A out performs their competitors and earn the top revenue per unit/restaurant in the United States with an average of over $8 million in sales.  This is per restaurant and that is much higher than any other fast-food chain average! Go figure!!!   

The principles for success in life are much simpler than we often think.  Maintain your character and watch your profits in all areas of life increase!

Further Book Resources

Doing Business the Chick-fil-A Way by S. Truett Cathy (2002).

How did you do it, Truett?  By S. Truett Cathy (2007).

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