Open only six days per week, Chick-Fil-A’s per store sales are outpacing the second best performing quick service restaurant chain by nearly 63%. The earnings per store are averaging $4.4 million. McDonald’s, ranking fifth in per store average sales, only collects $2.5 million per store, and they are open more than 52 additional days per year. Chick-Fil-A has significantly fewer stores than McDonald’s, ranking it eighth in overall sales, but it is on pace to move up to third place by 2020.
The Forbes article about this massive success attributes it mainly to two factors: great food, and outstanding customer service. If you have been to Chick-Fil-A, then you already know that it kills it in these two areas. I have chuckled to myself when visiting other quick service restaurants and found them trying to capture the Chick-Fil-A magic by saying “my pleasure” when I thank them. Everyone knows Chick-Fil-A has mastered customer service, and everyone is trying to match them. But the magic isn’t in just saying “my pleasure.”
I was not surprised that Forbes did not mention the more intangible aspects of Chick-Fil-A’s success. This really is the culture of the restaurant, but I like to call it their heart. The restaurant manages to recreate the wholesome American values of the past, and accomplishes it in spades. I know, many progressives will cast aspersions on the idea that America’s past values are something worth recreating. Then again, most of those progressives are already boycotting the delicious chicken sandwiches anyway, so I will just move on to my point.
Closing on Sundays places emphasis on family time as well as on religious values. While traditional thinking would hold that doing so would only limit profitability, the results speak for themselves. In this way and in others, Chick-Fil-A puts its money where its mouth is, living out the values that it claims to hold.
While progressives also take issue with the charities that the restaurant chain supports, Chick-Fil-A is a very active philanthropist organization, down to the individual store level where fundraisers are held frequently for local schools. There are also the cases of Chick-Fil-A working on Sundays to provide free food in emergency situations, and even instances when they have provided free refreshments to their own detractors and protestors. That is the perfect embodiment of Matthew 5:44: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (NKJV). This is not incidental to the success of the chain.
They also hold community events, and are not afraid even in this time to host father-daughter or mother-son dining events. I think that one of the most important pieces of the heart of Chick-Fil-A comes down to a role that I call the “store grandma,” although I have seen it filled by a “grandpa” at some locations. This employee, typically a senior citizen, not only helps to clear customer’s trash and offer them refills, they will linger and talk to the customers, ask about their families, and often even pray with them.
This person at the Chick-Fil-A that I frequent most often is named Diane. One day my husband expressed to Diane that he wished that she could be home, and not still have to work at her age (in her 80s). She quickly put him in his place, explaining that she does it because she loves it, and that she sees it as her ministry. What a wonderful opportunity for someone who most other companies would never even see value in, to give her a place where she has a purpose in her life and can spread joy to so many people who are blessed by being “loved on” by her. No, Forbes would never be able to explain the corporate value of employees like Diane, and competing restaurants haven’t figured it out yet either, but the customers who are behind Chick-Fil-A’s stunning success understand it very well, and wouldn’t have it any other way.