I knew Chick-fil-A was on to something when I read that its first unit in NYC, Manhattan was attracting huge lines of customers. If you’ve been in NYC recently you know that there are about ten food options per block and New Yorkers can be pretty jaded with so many food choices available.
A number of publications including The Washington Post and Entrepreneur recently reported that Chick-fil-A is now the third-largest restaurant chain for sales in the U.S. 2018 was a banner year for the chain boasting $10.46 billion in U.S. sales.
What company holds the #1 spot? Yep, it’s still McDonald’s with $38.52 billion sales and Starbucks is in second place with $20.49 billion sales.
Chick-fil-A is often looked at as a southern U.S. chain but the units can now be found in 47 states. Even so, the consensus is that there is still lots of room for growth. Not so for other chicken chains, like KFC, and in general burger chains are feeling the pressure to grow. It’s impressive to see the company beating out giants like Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and Subway.
Doubly impressive is that Chick-fil-A is not walking the line in today’s extreme pressure not to stand out, especially with social issues. The restaurants are closed on Sundays and its conservative stance toward same-sex marriages is well-publicized — but still the chain is prospering.
The obvious question is, “What is Chick-fil-A doing to pull ahead of so many other well-known fast food chains?” Most experts cite the service and hospitality as being the competitive advantage. Attention to the customer experience—not just the food—is legendary. If we train all our employees to mind their manners with plenty of “thank-you’s” and “please”, will we see good results in sales?
I’ve only eaten in Chick-fil-A twice so I’m no expert at answering this question. What do you think? Is there another element that we’re missing? This is a question that all fast food chains should be researching.