8 Reasons Why Chick-fil-A has the Best Business Model in America

by Marcus Sheridan

chick-fil-a business modelDang I love it when I see great people and great businesses kicking butt at what they do. Such was the case recently when the fam and I stopped into a local Chick-fil-A restaurant here in Virginia and I was treated to a free course entitled, “This is How To Run a Business that Kicks Butt and Takes Names….”, or at least that something like that …..

As the kids were all eating their food and I was busy being blown away by this perfect company and business model, I decided to ask my 9 year old daughter a simple question:

Me: Danielle, what do you notice about this restaurant that’s different than others.

Danielle (by now used to weird business questions from her father): Well, first of all everyone that works here is happy.

Me: Yes, they are, aren’t they? How’s that make you feel to see them smiling?

Danielle: It makes me feel good inside.

Me: I agree…What else do you notice?

Danielle: There are pictures everywhere. And writings on the walls. And it’s really clean.

Me: Good observations dear. Danielle, you’re looking at the most well run business in America.

For any of you that have been to Chick-fil-A before, you may already understand and appreciate what I’m talking about. If you haven’t gone to one and would like 4 years worth of business school wrapped up in 45 minutes, then take a stroll on over to one of their restaurants for lunch and just sit, watch, and observe.

But to make what could be a long blog much shorter, allow me to quickly list the 8 reasons why Chick-fil-A has the best business model in America.

Happy Employees/Service: It’s unbelievable what type of employees this company has. Heck, while we were eating our meal the other day, an employee with a big smile came over and asked us if we’d like refills on our drinks. For a fast food company, this is utterly unheard of in our society these days. It’s obvious that Chick-fil-A doesn’t go cheap on their people nor their way of doing things. I’m sure they pay decent wages but they also create an atmosphere that attracts great people. What a wonderful model this is for any business.

They’re Clean!: Somewhere along the lines sanitation and cleanliness became a lost art in the fast food industry. Notwithstanding this trend, Chick-fil-A has bucked the system and their restaurants, as well as their bathrooms, are almost always immaculate. I don’t know about you, but I’ll pay more for clean any day of the week.

They Know What They’re GREAT At: Most businesses try to be a jack of all trades, which ends up causing them to be master of none. That’s why Chick-fil-A will never have a burger on their menu. Why? Because they don’t care. They know they’ll never be the best at beef but they sure as heck have created a culture around the chicken sandwich. Wow, what a lesson this is for those businesses out there with no identity, niche, or individual greatness.

They Ain’t Cheap: Yep, having high prices is actually a GOOD business model. I don’t know about you, but the idea of having to sell a lot to make a little stinks. Chick-fil-A has prices a good bit higher than most of their fast food competitors, notwithstanding they are always full of smiling customers, just waiting to spend the extra green stamps. These higher prices lead to better employees, service, food quality, customers, etc. I’m sure never once has their management even asked, “How can we be the cheapest?” But I’d bet my home they’ve asked, “How can we be the best, regardless of what it costs?”

Ambiance: The next time you go to Chick-fil-A check out all the little things they do to make their restaurants warm and attractive. They have photos of employees, quotes on the walls, paintings from local children, etc. Everywhere you look in one of their stores you’ll find something that makes you smile.

Community Involvement: Wow do they do this better than any fast food company. In fact, this one isn’t even close. They are constantly doing promos within the communy for youth teams, causes, etc. In fact, it’s like they’ve take social media to another level because for them it’s not just about using Facebook and the like, it’s about actually being involved and in the trenches. Huge props to Chick-fil-A for this.

Awesome Website: All of you that read this blog know how I feel about the importance of having a great website and web presence in order to be a successful business. If you want to see what a great business website looks like, head on over. Whether it’s bios of the employees, social media links, customers stories, etc—this site is spot-on.

The Food is Actually Good: Ahh yes, lest we forget this other forgotten trait of fast food restaurants—great food. Everybody likes Chick-fil-A. Nothing on their menu is poor quality. They’re proud of their food and they have every right to be.

So there you have it folks—the 8 qualities of the best business model in America. What’s great is that every business can copy the way Chick-fil-A has built their company. The qualities listed above are simply principles that can be applied to any business or any website for that matter. So if you’re lacking inspiration for your business, it might be time for a Chicken Sandwich and waffle fries :-)

**Author’s Note: It goes without saying that I have no affiliation with Chick-fil-A, I just happen to write about greatness when I see it.

Mad Marketing Podcast

If you like the articles, you'll love Marcus' podcast and insightful tips on business and life.

Click to listen

Subscribe to Future Articles

Read Marcus' future articles and stay on the cutting edge of business, marketing, and life success tips!

Click to subscribe

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

David September 15, 2010 at

I had it on my list for Tuesday or Wednesday to write a very similar blog on Chic-fil-A. I can’t believe we thought of the same thing! Not sure if I need to anymore…but I might add a few things about their brand. Thanks for posting this.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan September 16, 2010 at

That’s funny David..I guess we both know greatness when we see it ;-)…Yeah, I actually could have added quite a few more to this list, but I was crossing the 1000 word mark and didn’t want to lose interest. Look forward to seeing your article though!

Reply

Eric Pratum September 16, 2010 at

You know, I’ve lived in Atlanta for roundabout 7 months now and still haven’t been to Chick-fil-a. Needless to say, we didn’t have those up in the Northwest.

More to the point though, all of the qualities you listed focus on Quality itself. Rather than being the quantity seller (which isn’t always bad of course, it sounds to my like Chick-fil-a is the quality seller. It seems they go so far as to make the experience about more than the food, which is so important. When I’m hungry for french fries, I MIGHT think about McDonalds has better fries than Competitor XYZ, but most of the time, I will primarily focus on the fact that I want fries and just get them from the place that is convenient. When a company like Chick-fil-a brings in so many more aspects to the food experience, they have a much better chance of your seller preference being a decisive factor in where you get that desired item than they do when they are simply the cheapest.

As you well know, this should have so many implications for business owners.
.-= Eric Pratum´s last blog ..I’m worried about starting too quickly =-.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan September 16, 2010 at

You bring up a great phrase Pratum: ‘Food Experience’

I think every industry can have an experience, can’t they? Instead though, many just focus on a low price and turning over more customers– not the best strategy IMO.

Thx for stopping by buddy, looking forward to your guest post here on The Sales Lion soon ;-)

Reply

Kirby Montgomery September 16, 2010 at

The founder and Chairman, S. Trett Cathy, per his bio “.. built his life and business based on hard work, humility and biblical principles. Based on these
principles, all of Chick-fil-A’s restaurants operate with a “Closed-on-Sunday” policy, without exception.”

Leadership always starts at the top, and this may have something to do with the spirit of the business and the employees.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan September 16, 2010 at

Kirby!! Hey buddy. Great point about the Sunday thing. I almost put that one in their as another quality, something like:

They have their values and aren’t influenced by what the world says they should be doing.

…or something like that.

I very much agree with you though. They have a major trickle-down culture starting from their ownership group.

Reply

Matt Lewis September 16, 2010 at

We love Chick-fil-A and I totally agree with all points above. But that brings up something interesting too: the case of Ukrop’s. While a grocery store instead of a restaurant, they fit every key point above. They seemed to be doing everything right. But they became less profitable over the years and now are just a part of history. What happened?

Reply

Marcus Sheridan September 16, 2010 at

Hey Matt, great seeing you in these parts old friend ;-)

You bring up a very good point regarding Ukrops. I did not know they’d stopped turning a profit, but if you look at a ‘Whole Foods’ or ‘Harris Teeter’ or ‘Wegmans’, those are extremely high end, high profit, and high prices companies that are finding great success.

I’d like to find out more about what happened with Ukrops though…could make for another good article ;-)

Reply

Matt Lewis September 16, 2010 at

Good point – while the Richmond market only has one Whole Foods and no Wegmans or Harris Teeter, Kroger has come in with a high-end selection, nice stores, friendly employees, etc. They also sell beer & wine (Ukrops didn’t) and are open on Sundays (Ukrop’s wasn’t) so are therefore more convenient overall to the average shopper. Two things Ukrops did well – hauling groceries to your car and offering a really nice salad bar and buffet – have been adopted by the new Kroger that just opened in Short Pump. So maybe thats part of the answer.

By the way, I follow your blog on a semi-regular basis and think it is fantastic. Your facebook posts remind me to look at your new threads here. While I’m not in direct sales, I do have to sell my programs or I won’t have an audience. The information here is useful, timely, accurate, and well-stated. Keep up the good work!

Reply

Marcus Sheridan September 16, 2010 at

Wow, that means a lot to me Matt. Thx!

Reply

kerilyn September 16, 2010 at

I didn’t read all the comments but I also really really appreciate that they hold true to their values. NOT being open on Sundays – while might not be the popular thing to do (OOH.. I want a Sweet Tea.. DRAT! Chic-Fil-A is closed today! DANG IT!) – gets respect from me that they really do walk the talk. It also makes the employees feel valued. I heart Chic-Fil-A!
:) kerilyn
.-= kerilyn´s last blog ..FK IT LIST!! =-.

Reply

kerilyn September 16, 2010 at

i see someone did write about Sundays…. whoops.
.-= kerilyn´s last blog ..FK IT LIST!! =-.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2010 at

Very good point actually Kerilyn. One has to respect that Chick sticks to their values….which even further leads to their raving fans.

Reply

Harmony Wheeler September 17, 2010 at

They may not be cheap, but they have great deals. Plus, they have great relations with their communities. Our local restaurant has special nights just for college students. And I saw a video of one that had a father-daughter date night. They’re very clever in their marketings.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2010 at

Great points regarding their focus on community Harmony. They do this way, way better than any other Fast Food place in the world. It’s really unbelievable in fact because each store has a different owner, but still their owners all have bought in to this incredible culture of community, family, etc.

Thanks for stopping by Harmony!! Hope to see you again :)

Reply

Kristen Kelley October 21, 2010 at

Chick-fil-A ROCKS! I love their food

Reply

Kansas City Portrait Studio November 23, 2010 at

Hello Marcus,

I found your website while surfing for informational details on Chick-fil-A’s business model. Actually, I’m quite familiar and believe it’s the way I will grow and expand my small business to turn it in to a multi-location monster for KC.

Ah, but I digress. I love what your site here is about. Of all my advertising expenses and the best return comes from my blogsite. Not even close. Best part? It costs me just a couple hundred bucks a year to maintain and maybe an hour or two a week to post.

Keep up the good work.
.-= Kansas City Portrait Studio´s last blog ..Passport Photos and 1 Hour Digital Photo Processing =-.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan November 24, 2010 at

Thanks for the kind words ‘KC’, I’m much obliged…glad to see you’re really embracing inbound marketing and your blog is the impetus for your success…Even better, if you just keep it up your competition won’t be able to ever catch up.

Stop by again some time!! :-)

Reply

Danielle December 9, 2010 at

THAT WAS THE BOMB DAD

Reply

Nana July 19, 2012 at

How can you say that a business that actively supports anti-LGBT rights and is being boycotted by a large portion of the population is a good business model? The numbers for and against of gay rights in this country are split down the middle. A good business model does not involve inviting the wrath of half of the population.

Reply

Graham January 4, 2014 at

That really pisses me off, regardless. I don’t agree with their views, but I still eat there almost every weekend. Why? Because I’m not an uptight, intolerant a**hat who can’t respect other’s views and practices.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: