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Understanding Chick Fil A Business Model

Understanding Chick Fil A's Business Model
Logo by Chick Fil A, edited by Grey Knight


Chick-fil-A, the renowned fast food chain known for its chicken sandwiches, has captured the hearts and taste buds of Americans. From its humble beginnings to becoming the third largest restaurant chain in the United States, Chick-fil-A’s success can be attributed to its unique business approach and unwavering commitment to quality.

1. The Secret Recipe that Started It All

Chick-fil-A owes its popularity to its signature chicken sandwich, which has been consistently ranked as America’s favorite fast food. The secret recipe, developed by founder Truett Kathy, remains locked away in a vault, shrouded in mystery. The original chicken sandwich, consisting of a breaded chicken breast and two pickles on a buttered toasted bun, has remained unchanged since its creation in 1967.

A Commitment to Quality

Chick-fil-A takes immense pride in offering high-quality products. The name itself, a play on “chicken filet” with a capital “A” representing top quality, reflects their dedication. While other fast food chains expand their menus to attract customers, Chick-fil-A’s strategy has always been to maintain a focused menu centered around chicken sandwiches. This simplicity allows customers to easily choose their desired items and ensures consistency in taste and experience.

2. Unparalleled Customer Satisfaction

Chick-fil-A has consistently topped the American Customer Satisfaction Index since its inception in 2015. Despite potential delays in service and drive-through, customers are delighted with the quality of the experience. To enhance efficiency and maintain quality during the pandemic, Chick-fil-A introduced Upstream ordering, where associates take orders while customers wait in line. This personalised approach allows for accurate order-taking, ensuring customer satisfaction remains high.

A Different Franchise Model

Setting itself apart from other fast food chains, Chick-fil-A follows a unique franchise model. Unlike most chains where franchisees cover the majority of costs, Chick-fil-A owns every location. The company handpicks franchise operators after a rigorous selection process, focusing on individuals skilled in developing people and leading teams. With an initial investment of only ten thousand dollars, franchisees become part of a close-knit culture dedicated to maintaining high standards.

3. A Commitment to Growth

While Chick-fil-A’s footprint was initially concentrated in the Southeast, it has rapidly expanded nationwide. With approximately 2,600 locations in the United States and branches in Canada and Puerto Rico, Chick-fil-A is opening around 100 new stores annually. While their growth rate may seem slower compared to some competitors, such as Chipotle, Chick fil A prioritises market presence and building strong connections with team members and communities.

Values and Faith

Chick-fil-A’s core values, rooted in Judeo-Christian principles, have played a pivotal role in shaping the company’s identity. The company remains closed on Sundays to allow employees to rest and engage in religious activities. Although it does not require employees to adhere to specific beliefs, Chick-fil-A’s emphasis on humility, generosity, and faith attracts individuals who align with its values.

4. Growing Nationwide, Eyeing Global Expansion

From its humble beginnings in the Southeast, Chick-fil-A has expanded its footprint across the United States. Currently boasting approximately 2,600 restaurants nationwide, the company is also venturing into international markets, including Canada and Puerto Rico. Although the growth rate may appear slower compared to some other chains, such as Chipotle, which opens 200 restaurants annually, Chick-fil-A’s steady expansion is deliberate and strategic. Each location consistently outperforms competitors in terms of revenue, thanks to the hands-on approach and meticulous attention to detail.

5. Values That Shape the Brand

Chick-fil-A’s brand is profoundly influenced by founder Truett Cathy’s Christian faith. The company’s commitment to its values resonates in its daily operations. One notable manifestation of these values is Chick-fil-A’s policy of remaining closed on Sundays. Beyond allowing employees to attend religious services, this practice ensures that staff members have a day of rest. The decision to stay privately owned also stems from these values. Chick-fil-A has grown organically, avoiding the need for external investors and preserving its autonomy.


Chick-fil-A’s success can be attributed to a combination of factors, including its secret recipe, commitment to quality, unparalleled customer satisfaction, unique franchise model, and adherence to its core values. As Chick-fil-A continues to grow both domestically and internationally, its dedication to serving high-quality food and positively impacting all those who come in contact with the brand remains unwavering.

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